“No.” Colli straightened and ran for the entry hall. Hail joined rain to beat against her. At the doorway she stopped and raised the ring to a metal knob. A brilliant glow grew from the connection.
“You can’t…” The words grated with bitter anger. Skad’s hot breath burned into her neck. Agony cut through her. Blood trickled down her back, from a wound in her right shoulder. A force pulled, turned her and tried to wedge her away from the door.
Got… to… get… inside. Cold cut into her. The ring adhered to the door and would not let go. She hung there.
“ I’ve won. I’ve won.” A cackle of laughter announced her defeat.
Strength deserted her. “I can’t,” she screamed, ready to let go.
You must. The voices she’d treasured and lost returned. Her desperate need gave them the strength they needed to break through the blanket that had robbed her of them.
“No.” Skad’s shrill shriek slammed into her.
Colli turned to face flashing blue eyes. Bringing her right knee up to her stomach, she pushed her foot out with all the force she could gather. It hit against the soft tissue of his belly, knocking him backwards.
The ring and the knob maintained their magnetic attraction. Fear gathered with a force she’d never known before. Without it, it would have been easy to give up. Forcing cold air deep into her lungs, Coll i pushed against the door. A click sounded. The door swung inward. Rolling onto the hard stone surface of the floor, Colli propelled into the cavernous hall.
A gurgling stream broke the expanse of the room. Water bubbled from the floor at the base of a stone fountain. The ring pulled Colli, splashing, through the strangely warm water. An eerie blue glow spread across the liquid’s surface. Fog boiled from an aperture in a rock sculpture. Desperation drew her toward the structure. The glow strengthened, but only in a small middle stone. It wouldn’t be hard to reach, if she could get there.
Colli heard Skad splashing behind her. The ache in her back was so intense that it grew harder and harder to breath, Colli had to get to that stone. The material of her blouse ripped as Skad grabbed and pulled it to stop her.
He can’t. I won’t let him. Fiery heat hit her left shoulder. Colli tried to lift her arm, to ready the ring for connection. Nothing.
The battle was lost.
No! Grabbing her left hand with her right, she lifted it to the glowing stone.
Skad continued to beat against her. He tried to pull her around.
Agony numbed the right side of her body. Somehow, beyond her understanding, Colli was able to keep both hands up before her. Propelling with the full weight of her body, she fell forward onto the hard surface.
The ring made contact. Brilliance exploded. Warmth and healing raced through her body.
“You did it.” Multitudes of voices shouted in her mind.