Dark Witch (The Cousins O'Dwyer Trilogy 1) - Page 12

“Alastar can. I’ll call him, and he’ll carry us home.”

“Can you call him, from all this way?”

“He’ll come very fast.”

Teagan rose on her sturdy legs, lifted her arms.

“Alastar, Alastar, brave and free, heed my call and come to me. Run swift, run true to find the one who needs you.”

Teagan bit her lip, turned to her mother. “Brannaugh helped me with the words. Are they good?”

“They’re very good.” Young, Sorcha thought. Simple and pure. “Say it twice more. Three is strong magick.”

Teagan obeyed, then came back to stroke her mother’s hair. “You’ll be well again when we’re home. Brannaugh will make you tea.”

“Aye, that’s what she’ll do. I’ll be fine again when I’m home.” She thought it was the first time she’d lied to her child. “Find me a good, strong stick. I think I could lean on it and walk a ways.”

“Alastar will come.”

Though she doubted it, Sorcha nodded. “We’ll meet him. Find me a sturdy stick, Teagan. We have to be home before dark.”

Even as Teagan scrambled up, they heard the hoofbeats.

“He’s coming! Alastar! We’re here, we’re here!”

She’d called her guide, Sorcha thought, and a sharp stab of pride pierced her fatigue. As Teagan ran forward to meet the horse, Sorcha gathered herself again, pushed painfully to her feet.

“There you are, a prince of horses.” Grateful, Sorcha pressed her face to Alastar as he nuzzled her. “Can you help me mount?” she asked Teagan.

“He will. I taught him a trick. I was saving it for when Da comes home. Kneel, Alastar! Kneel.” Giggling now, Teagan swept a hand down.

The horse bowed his head, then bent his forelegs, and knelt.

“Oh, my clever, clever girl.”

“It’s a good trick?”

“A fine trick. A fine one, indeed.” Grasping the mane, Sorcha pulled herself onto the horse. Nimble as a cricket, Teagan leapt on in front of her.

“You hold on to me, Ma! Alastar and I will get us home.”

Sorcha gripped the little girl’s waist, put her trust in the child and the horse. Every stride of the gallop brought pain, but every stride brought them closer to home.

When they neared the clearing she saw her older children, Brannaugh dragging her grandfather’s sword, Eamon holding a dagger, racing toward them.

So brave, too brave.

“Back to the house, back now! Run back!”

“The bad one came,” Teagan shouted. “And he made himself into a wolf. I threw rocks at him, Eamon, like you did.”

The children’s voices—the questions, the excitement, the licks of fear—circled like echoes in Sorcha’s head. Sweat soaked her. Once again she grasped Alastar’s mane, lowered herself to the ground. Swayed as the world went gray.

“Ma’s sick. She needs her tea.”

“Inside,” Sorcha managed. “Bolt the door.”

She heard Brannaugh giving orders, clipping them out like a chieftain—“fetch water, stir the fire”—and felt as if she floated inside, into her chair, where her body collapsed.

Tags: Nora Roberts The Cousins O'Dwyer Trilogy Fantasy
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