“So there are three people frozen in time in Thomas’s room, and we have no idea how to release them?” Rebecca’s voice betrayed the toll that stress had taken on her.
“Yes. That is the current situation.” Sarah felt exhausted.
“On a positive note, the barrier seems to be gone.” Julia tried to sound upbeat but failed.
The three women were sitting downstairs. They had tried to move the men without success. For now, at least, they were stuck in their current positions.
“Can you use your blue crystal?” Rebecca asked Julia.
“No. I haven’t figured out how to extend its use. I was lucky that it worked on Bailey. But mind control is a different sort of magic than temporal stasis.”
Rebecca slumped further into her chair, the hope she had harbored briefly fully extinguished.
“We need another temporal mage.” Julia said. “Do you know anyone, Sarah?”
“No. Thomas was . . .” She caught herself. “ . . . is the only one I’ve met. It’s clear they were after him, but we still don’t know why.”
Silence fell over them as each reflected on the matter. For her part, Sarah was not certain how to feel. She knew she couldn’t leave Thomas as he was, but it might mean the house was safe, at least for now. On the other hand, he might also have an idea as to who their attackers were, or even why they had attacked.
“We should restore our own defenses. Whoever it was that got away, he could come back. Can you put up a barrier of our own, Julia?” Sarah refused to sit still and wait for the next thing to happen.
“I can, but there is a reason I didn’t put one up before. With preparation, they can be taken down. It worked in this case because we didn’t have the time to break it. If I set one up, they could figure out how to deal with it before we notice. At best, it would slow them down.”
“That’s better than nothing.”
“Okay. I just wanted you to know the limits of it. I’ll put one up and reactivate the long hallway. Leaving one up for too long might also attract unwanted attention. Once I can figure out a way to remove barriers quickly, I think we should consider taking it down.”
“What about the men upstairs?” Rebecca asked.
“There’s nothing we can do about them, remember?” Sarah answered.
“No. I meant, what if the stasis is temporary. What if they can start moving. They’re still a threat.”
“That’s a good point. I’ll put up a barrier around them. Even if they manage to break out, at least we’ll know.”
“I’m sorry to put so much on you, Julia.” Sarah said.
Julia shrugged. “Defending the house is my job. It’s why you all let me stick around in spite of my anti-social attitude.”
“That’s not true,” Sarah protested.
“Relax. I’m joking. Mostly. Anyway, it’ll give me something to do.”
“Rebecca. Do you think you could contact Thomas’s soul? See if it’s frozen too? Maybe we can contact him through the spirit world?”
Rebecca appeared to think about the idea for a few moments. “I can try. I don’t know if it will work, but I will try.”
“That’s all I ask. I will see if I can track down the identities of our uninvited guests. Maybe that will provide us with some answers.”
They heard the front door open and then David’s voice.
“Barrier’s down. Is anybody here?”
“In here,” Sarah replied.
David came around the corner, but he wasn’t alone. He was supporting another person who seemed to be unconscious.
“David! Who . . .?” Sarah had rushed over to help.
At the sound of her voice, the figure raised its head and gave her a weak smile. “Sarah. It’s good to see you.”
Her surprise caused her to take a step back. “Matthew?!”