Before she could finish, dark once more descended. The wind grew stronger. Even though it warmed the air around them, it brought no comfort. A violent blast knocked Colli to the ground. She stood, but remained hunched over.
“Stay low,” Colli commanded. She felt the others beside her, all but Mary.
She floated up.
The ground remained cold, but brought reassurance with its solidity.
Keleon and Trevan pulled in close to Colli.
“What’s Mary doing?” Keleon’s mouth near Colli’s head allowed his soft voice to carry only to her.
Before she could answer, rain cascaded from overhead, gathering strength. A gale grew, pushing against them, trying to force them into the forest, away from the sanctuary offered by strong walls.
Colli barely heard Trevan’s words over the wind. The child had returned. Brightness grew from his innocent wonder. It gave them the visibility they needed.
Around them, rain continued to gush from above to flow over Chernbog’s shaking form. “No. This won’t stop me,” he screamed.
“Get inside now.” Colli pushed Keleon and Trevan in front of her, before she turned back to face Chernbog.
“Mary. Do it.” Colli felt her words take hold.
The wind grew stronger. Its power pushed Keleon and Trevan away from Colli, to safety. Inside the doorway they watched her progress.
Chernbog raised his hand. An equal gust offset the one controlled by Mary. It pushed against Colli. Branches snapped, sending spears that dug into the ground. She ducked one, but another grazed her wounded shoulder. It caught material with a ripping jerk. Her shirt tore. Dried blood pulled painfully away from her wound. Rain made the ground slick. Twice she slipped.
Keleon started to come after her.
“No.” Colli called. She dropped to her knees and crawled forward. Branches continued to fly at her. They broke against the ground behind her.
Mary floated down beside her.
“Get inside.” Colli pushed Mary toward the others, before she turned to face Chernbog.
“Shut. The. Door.” She yelled. The rage of the storm grew. Snow and ice melted, leaving rivulets flowing around her.
A loud bang announced obedience to her command. She was alone.
“You have not won.” Behind Chernbog darkness gathered. A gray ribbon reached out, trying to wrap around Colli.
Together. Despite the solid barrier between them, Colli felt strength from the others build in her. It’s never been about me, she realized.
It’s me. Trevan’s voice warmed her.
But you can’t be here.
I am. And I’m not. He answered. Look at your left hand, he told her.
She raised her arm. In her palm brightness grew.
Chernbog grabbed for her. Missing, he gripped the fabric of her blouse sleeve and yanked. The material pulled away from her wounded shoulder, taking the rest of the healing scab with it.