Amehana and Vadise stood outside the closed doors, a high tone filling both their ears. Their sudden arrival surprised the guards, who lowered spears at the pair. Vadise pushed Amehana behind him as he drew his katana. The doors glowed in response to Amehana’s alarm and began to screech at the affront to their enchanter, swiftly taking on their proper color with her presence.
“Well, I was right about the location. I didn’t see a thing about spears at the doors.” Amehana looked around him as Vadise and the guards sized each other up.
“Who are you and how are you here?” Their clipped tones dropped like weights.
“This is my mate, Amehana Arashi. I’m Vadise.” His tone insinuated how he’d not let anything harm her.
“The gates called me.” She added simply gesturing. “And now you’ve angered them.”
“Lies. They’ve made noise the entire time we’ve been on shift.” The elder of the pair rebutted.
“Then you are deaf, or not got a drop of dragon’s blood in you.” She slipped around her mate and marched between the surprised guards to kiss the doors, soothing them. They reacted quickly, trying to prevent her from reaching the doors, but met with the ground before they could touch her.
They gave a gentle chime as her lips met the surface of the doors and audibly unlocked. Vadise sputtered. “They could have killed you!”
“You wouldn’t have let them dear.” Amehana smiled at him and stepped back. “I suggest you move boys. They’ll spring open and move you themselves otherwise. Enchanted doors really don’t like sharp things pointed at the one who enspelled them, though my mate’s dislike is much more.”
The pair scrambled away as the doors opened, Vadise putting away his sword and taking Amehana’s hand. He squeezed, silently displaying his continued displeasure and worry. She squeezed back and looked him in the eye. “And you were worried I didn’t need you.”
He rolled his eyes and shook his head. She swatted lightly with her tail as she pulled him into the room with her, the doors closing again before the guards could get their senses back enough from the confusion the doors had been casting on them.
The pair made their way through the room, Vadise keeping his hand near his sword and his grip on Amehana’s hand, he relaxed when the occupants of the next room beyond did not challenge, but nodded instead.
“You called Mara-okamisama?”
“You are late. I’m glad you brought a minder.” Mara gestured the pair over to her small group.
Vadise’s eyes narrowed when he saw Justin, and grunted.
“I … had some important self care that could not be put off.”
“I am glad you did come, both of you.” Mara looked the fox over. “He suits you. You’ll need him.”
Amehana blushed, but kneeled behind Justin where she was pointed. Mara likewise directed Vadise to sit with her. He locked his arms around Amehana, managing to get her in his lap, decidedly unhappy that yet again there was that boy… and that she was touching him. She twined her tail around his and squeezed, and he relaxed somewhat.
“Your wife WILL jolt when she helps force the gate so they can be pulled back here. Be prepared.” Mara whispered into his ear. “I’m sure you smell her unease. She’s not done this before at this extent, but she has to learn and I do need her element.”
He nodded and tightened his grip with thoughts of the cracking mirror back home. He could feel his mate wrapping herself around him and the way she stuffed the shivers down. Likewise he latched onto her as best he could and felt her stretching her energy to feel the barrier.
“Amehana, at my command I will need you to channel the storm and strike the directional lock.”
Amehana nodded, glancing at the young ones bridging the gap. Still feeling around, she eventually found it and then worked her will into the storm between the worlds. She smoothed what she could and ignored the temptation to explore it. She could do that later now that she was aware of this shard and could find it again at her leisure… with her mate to keep an eye on her in case of mistakes.
Justin kept his grip on Kirsty while his tutor and her mate settled behind him, well aware of the fox’s displeasure. He tried not to take it personally, knowing that if he ever were lucky enough to have a mate of his own he would be just as protective. It was harder and harder to hold onto Kirsty’s spirit with how far she ranged. The scent of blood filled his nose and he glanced down where a scrape had opened in her side.
Amehana and Vadise also looked, the fox tightening his grip on the dragon. Justin cursed under his breath. “Come on…”
Something in the storm changed a few moments after and the scent of ozone filled the room. Amehana’s connection to the storm strengthened, static running over her form and that of her mate through their connection.
“NOW! PULL THEM THROUGH!” Mara’s scream in the chamber echoed and crashed, a whip crack driving stopped time forward again. On the surface the seas roiled and foamed.
Amehana gathered the force and channeled it where sea, sky, and gate met, striking the key of blood in the lock to activate it. Her roar announced the breach as pain lanced through her body, but the energy of the storm also filled the crack that was forming in her soul and her mirror as quickly as it was spreading. Instinctively she held the gate open, sensing the more major deities also reaching to hold it open with her. There was no time for relief. While holding it open she had to resist the pull on her own soul into that realm between realms.
Justin reached with his soul and pulled on his sister, panting with effort and instantly covered in sweat. The added soul weight of his mother added another strain. He felt the strength of others with him, added to his, the priests and priestesses assisting.
One beat. Two. Three.
A ripping sound, the tearing of a veil.
The barking of a young white seal as she humped her way onto the shore, fought the pull of the waves. Then back into her body. She convulsed and buried her teeth in him. Justin yelped but did not pull away.
Another flash of lightning and clash of thunder. The deities released the gate which slammed shut. Mara’s young aspect stood just their side of where the gate had been clasping a pale Etain to her, then sank to her knees. Ven’thrith kneeled next to her, rocked them both gently, and pulled them both into a tight embrace as the young aspect sobbed quietly.
The scrap of the Lady that had clung to Kirsty separated, stood visible and looked around tiredly. Weakly she tousled Justin’s hair and nodded at Amehana and Vadise.
The elder aspect of Mara clutched at the scrap and crushed her with a cry. “Another piece of you home.”
Amehana let go of Justin and leaned back into Vadise, shaking. She turned around in his lap and buried her face in him as the lightning still traveled in her body. He stroked her back and tried to ground her as well as he could. “It was so… old…” He kissed her cheek and held her until the trembling stopped and she had processed the leftovers.
“I want… my children…” Etain’s voice cut through the room despite it’s weakness. Her hand lifted toward Justin and Kirsty as her eyes opened.
Ven’thrith released them and Mara’s young aspect carried the selkie priestess to the pair. Etain shakily touched each in turn, lingering longer on Justin and looking into his eyes. She smiled.
“Stop biting, Kirsty.” In her exhaustion Kirsty still heard, and released.