The scarlet glow overtakes everything that is natural and normal in the world. Children suddenly possess burning orbs for eyes, skin is a sickly pink, our animals appear otherworldly, trees are hazy sentinels and rock transforms into purple manipulation.
This is great magic.
Horin falls to his knees, staring up. “Lyra is more powerful than she understands.”
Hanna snaps her gaping mouth closed, draws breath and says to him, “You are as well. You are the shield that will stand between us and the ancients.”
He sighs. “I know.”
As panic spreads, folk leave the trees to stare up into the red sky. Hanna marks this and spears me with her wise gaze. “They are in the open again, Damin Mur. Return to the rim. Stay as close to the edge as you can.”
I glance from her to Horin, to Mirlin, and shake my head. “No doubt you will tell us why, but know I am going with you to Lyra.”
Horin dips his head and smiles.
“Start talking,” I snap out, but I am uncertain whether I address Horin or Hanna.
Hanna sits on the grass. “This then.”
We close in and sit with her. Myself, Horin, Siri, Kay, Manuel and Mirlin … as well as Attis. Seeing that tousled head, I realise he too will accompany us to Lyra. There is no way I will be able to stop him.
Hanna tells us of an ethereal woman named Sassen, of a crossroads, of a host of ghosts … and she reveals that Lyra believes we will be made slaves to the light beings from another world and time.
Silence surrounds us when she finishes with, “… and Lyra evaded me. I chose then to follow her command to return to you.”
Ours are not the only ears that heard the summation from the Messenger. Everyone in the vicinity listened, including Joseph. He falls to his knees before Hanna as she ends her tale and takes her face into his hands. “I am so happy to see you safe.”