TKC 362 and 363
I awaken to find Iniri Makar bending over me touching my neck as if to feel for a pulse. When she sees my eyes opened, she retreats to stare at me, a frown marring her smooth forehead.
“What happened here?” she asks.
That is the question, is it not? What did happen here? I struggle to sit up, accepting her helping hand. “Where are we?”
Her eyebrows hike up, but she answers calmly enough. “On a cold rock shelf on the side of a mountain.”
Ah, good. At least I did not vanish into some alternate realm. Also, this means not too much time has passed while I was unconscious; someone would be carrying me down the mountain had much time gone by, or I would be in the shuttle already.
“Is Enris all right?” I attempt to look behind her, but all I see is swirling snow. In fact – I glance upward – the storm we hoped would not happen seems to be reaching for us. “We must leave or we will be trapped here.”
She nods. “Most are at the shuttle already and my father has summoned more craft to ferry them to safety.”
“I did not imagine it?” I blurt. Suddenly what went before feels utterly unreal.
“If you are talking about the lost returned, then it is real.”
Blinking, I stare at her. “What is it, my lady?”
Iniri glances upward briefly to check on conditions. “We saw folk climbing down the mountain and then a platform of ice descended from on high with many thousands upon it. They landed without a sound on the ice below and did not move, yet they were clearly alive. Shell-shocked maybe, who knows? But there was no sign of you, Enris or Coltern …”
“Where are they?” I interrupt.
“You tell me, Soul Keeper.”
By the sands! I hurtle up and nearly tumble over the edge, I am that unsteady. Glancing skittishly around me, I see only Kay and Ross. The two men stare at me as if waiting for something.
“Enris was kneeling here,” I gesture wildly at the area beside me, “and Coltern was behind him to stop him falling …” I bend swiftly to retrieve a section of frayed rope. “He tethered them to …” I point at the sharp rock where a loop of rope is still in place. “I was …”
Silence takes me. What the hell happened?
“They were tethered together?” Kay demands, his eyes narrowing.
I nod repeatedly.
Closing her eyes, Iniri stands. “That is why both vanished.”
“Vanished?” I screech. “To where?”
Kay shifts to stand before me, impaling me with suspicion. “You were here, Mirlin.”
“I blacked out! By the bloody sands, the ritual was done! They should be here, even I died in the doing!”
Placing his hands firmly on my shoulders, Kay murmurs, “Calm yourself, brother. I believe you. Now I believe you. But something happened. Do you have any thoughts about it?”
I am close to hyperventilating; I feel how panic grows inside me. I shake my head emphatically … and freeze. “Oh. It wasn’t the ritual. It was …” I jerk my head to the side to stare at Iniri Makar. Iniri. Iliri. Enris called the soul inside him ‘Iliri’.
“What, man?” Kay asks, shaking me slightly.
“Are you a single soul, my lady?”
Iniri frowns. “Of course.”
“Enris has someone inside him and I thought maybe you joined him from afar, but if it wasn’t you …if it isn’t you …”
“Speak plain,” Kay states.
“He called to someone and I think this someone took him away and along with him, Coltern.” As the flakes of snow become denser and ever swifter, I add, “Enris called her Iliri.”
Iniri Makar pales markedly. “Why do I recognise that and not only from how close to my name it is?” Suddenly she throws her head back. “ENRIS!” she screams.