The temperature in the hallway rose abruptly just before the wall crumbled. Flames flicked through the hole and smoke billowed out of the room. Immediately, David extinguished the fire and used air currents to carry the smoke away. With his attention focused on getting the crisis under control, he was caught completely unaware by the bolt of electricity that struck him in the chest and knocked him out. A few seconds later, Matthew crawled through the wall.
He bent over David and began searching his pockets. After pulling out a badge, he paused to check David. His breathing was shallow and his pulse thready, but if he received attention soon, he should be okay.
“Sorry about this,” he muttered to the unconscious mage. “It isn’t personal.”
Matthew stood and began to hurry to the front door. Even with the badge, it was easy to get turned around in the House. The floor plan had almost entirely changed since he had lived here. Before Sarah finally locked him up, he had tried to familiarize himself with the layout, but it was still confusing.
Several wrong turns later he found the hallway leading to the front door. He hurried forward but stopped when he heard Sarah call out his name.
He turned around. “I’m sorry. I need to leave. I hope you understand.”
“I don’t. You should stay. Help put all this right.”
“Can’t do that. Thomas needs to be stopped, and you’re not going to let me do that.”
“We can . . .”
“You should check on the person you left outside my cell.”
“Yes. He was alive when . . .”
Matthew looked over his shoulder to see a person in between him and the front door.
The woman cocked her head to the right as though she were uncertain of what to do. Her eyes were dark, unfocused. She raised her left hand and pointed at Matthew, who immediately disintegrated where he stood. Without saying anything, Julia disappeared.
Horrified and too stunned to move, Sarah just stood there until Rebecca came down the stairs.
“Sarah? What’s going on?”
“I . . . I’m not sure. Julia . . . She did something . . .”
Rebecca walked over to her and began to lead her toward the living room. “Let’s sit down and you can tell me.”
At first, Sarah allowed herself to be pulled along, but she stopped suddenly. “David. He’s hurt.” She broke out of Rebecca’s grasp and ran back to the room where Matthew had been locked up. David was still on the floor.
“Okay. Let me get in and check him out.” Rebecca gently moved Sarah to one side and began to look him over.
Sarah stepped back to give Rebecca room to work. What had Julia done? That wasn’t spatial magic. And was something wrong with her eyes?
Her musings were interrupted when Aisha came around the corner out of breath. “Have you seen Julia?”
“Yes. A little bit ago, she . . .”
“The front hallway. What is going . . . ?”
“Later. I need to find her.”
Aisha turned and began running toward the front of the house.
“Rebecca . . .”
“Go. I’ve got this.”
Needing answers, Sarah followed Aisha.