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The Greatwood Portal by Dorian Hart

The Greatwood Portal by Dorian Hart

Author:Dorian Hart [Hart, Dorian]
Language: eng
Format: epub
ISBN: 9780578527048
Publisher: Jester Hat Books
Published: 2019-07-24T22:00:00+00:00


CHAPTER EIGHTEEN

Thank you all for coming. Ell will be pleased.”

Morningstar delivered her ritual greeting somberly and wasted little time after that. She arranged her eight sisters in an outward-facing circle. The three who held no weapons stood shoulder to shoulder. The remaining five were near one another but spaced to allow each room to swing. Scola held her oversized hammer, Amber her two long knives. Gyre wielded a cudgel, Belle a sword, and Obsidia a long, polished spear.

“Your progress has been so great,” said Morningstar, “that you’ve made it extremely difficult for me to devise challenges. This one is meant to test several of your skills at once, to stress your concentration.”

Most of them simply stared back at her. Gone was the levity she had worked so hard to infuse into the group. Aktallian had hacked it away as cleanly as Sable’s head.

“Tell us,” said Jet, her young voice steady. “Whatever it is, we can handle it.”

“We’ll see,” said Morningstar. She concentrated and manifested five hundred black stone triangles, each flat and the size of her hand. They appeared spaced in a hemisphere above and around the circled sisters, fifty yards off, frozen in the air. “When the test begins, those stones will move toward you at varying speeds.”

“And we need to knock them away?” asked Scola.

“That is one choice,” said Morningstar. “I will leave it to you how best to protect yourselves.”

“We can just make a dome, can’t we?” asked Belle.

“Yes.” Morningstar smiled at her. “And I will try to remove it. Also, there is more to the test.” She manifested a dozen round wooden shield-sized boards along the distant walls of the training yard. “I want at least a hundred of the stones to wind up embedded in those targets.”

“What happens if we get hit by the stones?” Gyre’s voice, like her face, was entirely devoid of emotion. Morningstar was silently thankful she was here at all; she and Sable had been extremely close, but Gyre had no time to heal or even come to proper terms with her grief. After this was over, they would all mourn.

And maybe I’ll be mourning for them all. Or they for me.

“If any of them touch you, consider yourself knocked out. Lie down on the ground if that happens until the test is over.”

“What else?” asked Previa. “That still sounds too easy.”

Ah, Previa. Doing her best to restore normalcy.

Morningstar walked around the circle of her sisters, making eye contact with each. Most looked back at her with unreadable expressions. Jet looked nervous but defiant. Amber did not meet her gaze, looking instead at one of the targets.

“Three more things,” Morningstar told them. “One, you may not break your circle.” She manifested a ring of black bricks on the ground, five long strides across. “Two, I will manifest a light as bright as the noonday sun which you are not allowed to dim.” Some grumbling at that. “And, three, I am going to remove all of the air from the yard.”

As she expected, this announcement was met with open mouths and a few small gasps of incredulity.



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