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Chapter 30: The Magician’s Library

Almost as quickly as the storm had arisen, the seas relaxed, the winds died off and thunder stopped grumbling. The sun peaked out from behind the clouds and all stood at rest. Matt felt himself coming back together, hardening and thickening until he was almost a shadow of himself again. Fearing that he would come back together in the middle of the ocean, he cast himself upon the beach next to Bahati, and lay there trying to hold himself together.

Bahati glanced over, her face a mask of disbelief as she watched the puddle next to her take shape into her friend.

“Hi, Bahati. I told you it was me.”

Bahati nodded, and coughed blood into the sand. “I am sorry for doubting you. Ever.”

She coughed again and closed her eyes.

Matt placed a hand on her arm. “Stay with me, Bahati. How did you get here? We thought you wouldn’t have time to get through the portal, even if you did finish off those skele-leeches or whatever they’re called.”

“Our fight proved frightening enough to keep it open, I suspect. The leader of VICE. himself and his three demon hounds came to assist me. They possess unspeakable magic that would frighten ghouls themselves. I feel ashamed that I have allied myself with such creatures, but in this case, I saw that I had no other alternative.”

Matt pointed at the nearby island. “My dad’s already inside. Tyson and the magician are there as well.”

“Then,” Bahati managed with a wince, “we must assist him. This is a threat bigger than any one of us.”

Matt shook his head. “You’re not in any shape to go anywhere. That thing nearly ripped you apart.”

Bahati chuckled and smiled up at him. “You’re sweet, but do not worry about me. Help me stand. I can use some healing magic to work against the worst of it.”

Between the burns and the scratches and bruises, Bahati was a pitiful sight. She didn’t look fit to go anywhere, much less to battle with an evil magician.

It took her several attempts to get the incantation right between fits of coughing, but at last, she had healed herself enough to rise shakily to her feet. For another few minutes, she leaned heavily on her staff, staring out at the lapping waves.

Matt stood beside her, scarcely able to believe that the peaceful waters had been so violent only minutes before.

“It was a Storm Drake,” Bahati said in a low voice.

“A what?”

“A Storm Drake—a dragon that brings storms with it. Once we slew it, the storm stopped. Thank you, for your help.”

“And thanks for yours,” Matt added with a broad smile as he put his arm around her. “I can hardly believe you survived, but I’m really glad you did.”

Bahati’s chest heaved with a wracking cough. “Don’t get too attached to me yet. We have still got a magician to wrangle.”

“As good as my dad is, I’m sure he could use some backup. Are you ready to swim?”

Bahati shook her head. “I have a better idea.”

Keeping one hand on her staff, she waved her other hand in the air, and a large stretch of the serpent’s ribcage rose from the water and hovered above them. Bahati brought the bones around and lowered them into the space between the two islands, creating a makeshift bridge.

“Now I am ready,” Bahati said, using her free hand to show that Matt should go first.

After prodding the bone bridge to make sure it was secure, Matt ran across the gap in an uninterrupted dash. Bahati joined him, taking nearly three times as long to cross with her staff.

They glanced up the stairway and saw that someone had left the door open for them.

“Are you ready?” Bahati asked.

“Sure,” Matt said, wiping moisture from his brow. “For all we know, my dad already has everything under control. He’s already taught that magician a few new tricks and Tyson is rolling out of bed all nice and refreshed.”

Bahati’s face turned up in a wry smile as she started up the stairs.

“In your dreams.”

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