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A woman, but not Sharra. It was Jaelle who knelt beside her. She was too agonized to feel surprise. Leaning on the other woman, she whispered on a thin-stretched note, "Don't know. My head. As if-something's crashing in-I don't-"

"Open your eyes," Jaelle commanded. "Look at the Baelrath!"

She did. The pain was almost blinding. But she could see the stone on her hand throbbing with red fire, pulsing to the rhythm of the explosions behind her eyes, and looking into it, her hand held close to her face, Kim saw something else then, a face, a name written in fire, a room, a crescendo of dark, of Dark, and- "Jennifer!" she screamed. "Oh, Jen, no!"

She was on her feet. The ring was a wild, burning, uncontrollable thing. She staggered, but Jaelle supported her. Hardly knowing what she was doing, she screamed again, "Loren! I need you!" Kevin was there. "Kim? What?" She shook her head, tore away from his touch. She was blind with agony; she could scarcely speak. "Dave," she sc.r.a.ped. "Paul. Come on... the circle. Now!" There was so much urgency. They seemed to move so slowly, and Jen, Jen, oh, Jen. "Come on!" she screamed again.

Then they were around her, the three of them, and Loren and Matt, unquestioning, were beside them. And she held up the ring again, instinctively, and opening herself, her mind, cutting through the claws of pain she found Loren and linked to him and then-oh, a gift-Jaelle was there as well, tapping into the avarlith for her, and with the two of them as ballast, as bedrock, she cast her mind, her soul, to its farthest, most impossible compassing. Oh, far, and there was so much Dark between, so much hate, and oh, so very great a power in Starkadh to stay her.

 

But there was also a spar of light. A dying spar, so nearly gone, but it was there, and Kim reached with everything she had, with all she was, to the lost island of that light and she found Jennifer.

"Oh, love," she said, inside and aloud. "Oh, love, I'm here. Come!"

The Baelrath was unleashed, it was so bright they had to close their eyes against the blazing of that wildest magic as Kimberly pulled them out, and out, all the way out, with Jennifer held to the circle only by her mind, the spar, pride, last dying light, and love.

Then as the shimmering grew in the Great Hall, and the humming before the crossing time, as they started to go, and the cold of the s.p.a.ce between worlds entered the five of them, Kim drew one breath again and cried the last desperate warning, not knowing, oh not, if she was heard: "Aileron, don't attack! He's waiting in Starkadh!"

And then it was cold, cold, and completely dark, as she took them through alone.

Here ends THE SUMMER TREE, the first book of THE FIONAVAR TAPESTRY





CHAPTER DISCUSSION