We raced ahead of the storm, trying desperately to beat the roiling waves of magic and flashing lightening to get back to the Academy—to warn the others, and find Headmaster Capra. If anyone would know what to do now, it would be him.
“Step on it, Owen,” Cariss shouted as gravel spun beneath the tires of his Jeep. The other two cars followed as we sped far faster than was healthy down the backroads.
“No signal. Anyone else have a signal?” I asked as I jammed my finger over the home screen on my cell phone.
“Nothing,” Cariss replied, a slight edge of hysteria in her voice.
Breaking all the speed regulations, we got back to school within fifteen minutes. The magic that normally lay dormant or that zinged through the hallways like little strings of colored light, frizzed and sparked. Centuries-old magic rose from the stones like a thick cloud of dust.
I leaped from the car before it came to a complete stop. Screams echoed from inside as a young centaur burst through the double doors and galloped out of the parking lot.
“Go check in with the pack, tell them what happened,” I ordered the rest of the girls as they pulled in. Without question they peeled back out of the parking lot.
“Etta!” Cariss shrieked as a honey-blonde head appeared.
My heart slammed in my chest. She was still here. Tatianna, Owen’s girlfriend, came rushing out behind her.
“Cariss! Something’s happened! The magic, it’s gone unstable! Everything is changing!” Etianna yelled as we covered the distance between the front doors and the vehicles. Etta’s wide blue-green eyes were large in her face, her freckles standing out sharply against her pale skin. My hands twitched to reassure her, though I could offer no such promises.
“I know. I think it might actually be partly my fault,” Cariss hiccupped. “Lexie’s encased in Yggdrasil.”
“What?” Etta said, dumbfounded.
“Come on.” I ushered them back towards the building, surprised how the urge to take charge just came out.
“Tatianna, have you seen Professor Capra?” Owen asked, grabbing her hand. We jogged and were quickly back in the building where several students ran in the halls. Magic careened and dipped, smashing wildly into the stone walls and sending showers of spangles dashing into the air.
“Let’s try his office.” Tatianna’s eyes sparked with her inner phoenix fire. She was on the edge of her control.
Hearts hammering loud enough my heightened senses could pick them out over the melee, we ran through the ancient halls, dodging shards of magic and some disturbing phantom-like shadows that seemed to wail and scrape their ghoulish fingers towards us.
“What are those?” Etta gasped as she bumped into my shoulder to avoid one.
“I don’t know, but I don’t think they’re a natural phenomenon.” I put my hand on the small of her back, herding her to the center and taking the outside edge of the group.
“They’ve got to be a product of whatever this insanity is.” Cariss batted a torpedo of neon magic out of the way.
Owen jerked the door to the main office open.
“Duck!” he shouted as a swarm of the wraith like creatures flew over our heads, their shrieks deafening in such close proximity.
Without thinking, I pulled Etta to my chest and curled myself over her like a human shield.
“Go!” I pushed her forward into the office. Owen slammed the door shut behind us.
“Professor! Professor Capra?” Cariss shouted as we moved towards the back of the office to the stately oak door banded with heavy brass hinges and inlaid gold scrollwork.
We halted in front of the door. The hairs on the back of my neck stood on end and my werewolf senses tingled.
The door creaked open. Etta gasped.
“Professor Capra!” Tatianna’s whisper dropped in the silence that descended.
The professor stood in his doorway, his rotund belly stretching at the gold buttons of his velveteen vest, his goat legs planted heavily on the floor. He gripped his cane. His whole body flickered. Like he was desperately hanging on to his corporeal form.
“The magic,” The aged faun halted as his form shuddered in and out of visibility. “It is…taking us…old ones. Too much…magic…stored inside.”
“What do we do?” The words sounded like my voice, though I wasn’t sure I’d spoken them. Etta put her hand on my shaking forearm.
“You need…a unicorn.” His body shivered violently and when it returned, he was completely see-through.
“Look…below…” He tapped his cane.
With a wail that sent the group of us cowering, Professor Capra burst into a cloud of black and went screeching out the door, a phantom ghost himself.
“This is so bad,” Tatianna whispered. Her eyes were fully enflamed, only just keeping her fire inside.
“A unicorn?” Cariss said.
I realized Etta’s hand was still on my arm. I gripped her hand.
“Nobody has seen a unicorn in a thousand years,” Etta breathed.
We were screwed.