After two days of the storm, Jasmine felt like she was going crazy. She spent long periods of time simply staring off into nothing, her eyes glazed over. Her thoughts became jumbled, and she was losing her mind. She barely spoke to Gareth, who continuously paced the length of the first floor, muttering to himself. She was angry at him for letting her feel this way. And the wicked storm, it showed no signs of letting up or even weakening.
“I have to…” she said softly, letting the sentence trail off. Where had she been going with that thought? She wasn’t even sure, and that frightened her. What did she have to do? She had spoken so softly that Gareth hadn’t heard her over his own mumbling. She didn’t know what he was saying to himself, but she wouldn’t be able to focus on it anyway. She had been eating, but she still didn’t even have the energy to move her limbs. What was happening to her? She vaguely recalled Gareth saying that the captured fae had lost their minds and gone mad without their magic.
Was that what was happening to her? She struggled to think, everything was mush in her mind. How long had it taken them to go mad? Was it really this fast? How long had it been since Gareth had taken her from her home? She didn’t know. She stood on shaky legs. She felt like she was at sea, wobbling around on deck. She found that funny, and threw her head back to laugh. In her zealous and manic state, she lost her balance when she tossed her head and fell onto the couch. This was even funnier to her, and she couldn’t stop laughing. Was this what it was like to go mad? The thought made her giggle even more.
Marianna watched from the corner of the room, worry making her wring her hands. She had to intervene. She knew she shouldn’t, but she could see that Gareth wasn’t paying any attention to Jasmine’s hysterics. He only paced with his head down, talking to himself, no doubt trying to figure out whether or not he should let Jasmine get rid of the powerful storm. With the herbal work she had used to start it, she had made sure that Jasmine was the only one who could use magic to make it go away. Either Jasmine used her power, or they left the cottage walking through the dangerous lightning show.
She walked into the kitchen, looking around her. What could she do? She tried looking for an herb she never used or had an abundant supply of. She perused her stocks. Marianna grabbed a jar of oregano and threw it upon the ground, making a loud crash as the glass broke. She looked at Gareth. Nothing. He was still pacing. She looked at Jasmine. She was laughing. Sighing, Marinna leaned her hip against the counter, folding her arms across her chest. Gareth walked from the chair, onto the huge rug that spread across the dining room and under the table, and to the other side of the room. A smile lit her face. The rug! She rushed over, and flipped a large chunk of the carpet up and stepped back.
Gareth rubbed his hand over his face and closed his eyes, still walking. He felt exhausted. Barely any sleep had been gotten with all of the racket outside. He was walking, and then all of a sudden he was airborne. He landed on his stomach on the rug with the air going out of his lungs. He turned over on his back and looked back to see what he had tripped on. The carpet was folded over. He frowned. How had that happened? Then he heard laughing. Irritated, he looked at Jasmine. “That’s not funny.” She kept laughing and he got up from the floor in a huff.
He walked over to her to yell at her, but he stopped, his eyes widening. She was lying at a funny angle on the couch, and she had a strange look on her face. Horror filled him as he realized she wasn’t aware of anything around her. She looked like she had gone mad.
“Jasmine!” She turned her head to look at him and stopped laughing, but a bizarre smile remained on her face. He knelt down beside the couch and looked at her a little closer. He felt her forehead as he looked into her eyes. Sighing with relief, he saw that a part of her was still in there. He had to make a decision now. To hell with his original plans, her well-being was more important. He would have to figure something else out.
Gareth took her head in his hands, placing his palms softly on her cheeks. “Jasmine,” he said again. “Do you remember when you said you wanted to get rid of this storm? Using magic?”
She looked at him, confused. “I think so.”
“I’m going to give you your power back, so you can use your magic to make it go away. But, you have to promise me something.”
“What?” Her eyes still looked a little glazed, but they had gotten better since he had been forcing her to focus.
“I need you to trust me. To trust me, and not attack me and run away. Can you do that?” Gareth looked deeply into her eyes, trying to see truth in them.
Jasmine slowly nodded her head yes, and he removed his hands, standing up. He closed his eyes, and found her power, nestled down in a spot in his chi. He focused on it, feeling it release from his body and into hers. He took a deep breath when he was done, and opened his eyes.
Jasmine felt the rush of power coming back into her, and she gasped. It knocked the wind out of her, and at first it felt weird having magic inside of her again. It took her a few moments to balance it out. She could think with clarity, and she flexed her magical muscle, reaching out to feel the intensity of what was happening outside. She frowned at how wild it felt.
She looked to Gareth, who was watching her like a hawk. She bit her lip a little, knowing she had just promised him she wouldn’t use magic against him. Should she? She didn’t know if she could protect herself from the other halflings out there, wanting her head on a stake, thinking about the attack that Gareth had deflected. She sighed and walked to the door of the cottage. She opened it to the howling wind and went outside into the rage. She was instantly soaked as she closed her eyes and tilted her head to the sky, feeling the fat raindrops fall on her face. She opened up her arms and put her palms to the clouds, so dark and dense they were nearly black.
She gathered the storm into herself, feeling the violence of it within her own core. She felt wild magic, the force that was controlling it. She frowned as the magic warred with her own. With a start, she realized that someone had created this storm with a strange combination of different magics, and the magic came from so many different places. Trying to undo someone else’s magic was hard enough, but the power of this was even more overwhelming after not having her magic for so long. She wondered if she even had the power to overtake it, she felt weak. She wished she had the power of the universe, as Gareth had.
Jasmine felt another power enter her then, and she fell to her knees. It was so strong, she felt like she couldn’t control it. It was coming into her body at such an incredible speed she felt like she was being ripped apart. The sound of her screams blended with the thunder and they couldn’t be heard. The only thing she was aware of was the foreign energy within her, filling her and overpowering her chi. She had no balance. Jasmine could only stay on her knees, face to the sky and arms stretched out. She couldn’t move, and would collapse even if she could. She felt frozen in time as the energy kept rushing into her. She felt hot, like she was going to explode. Atoms that didn’t belong here moved inside her body at incredible speeds, and she screamed.
With one last thought, she knew she had to stop this. It was all she could do to stop the energy from pouring in, but she did. Screaming, she flung everything back out into the clouds, the rain, the thunder and lightning. She kept releasing it, finally gaining control of her chi in exhaustion. Gasping, she fell onto the wet earth, collapsing.
Gareth watched her walk out the door and followed her to lean against the door frame, his arms crossed over his chest. She struggled to find the balance with her magic and the magic of the storm. He frowned when he thought it might be too much for her. Suddenly, he felt her pulling magic from the universe. He shouted no, but it was lost to the sound of thunder and wind. He tried running to her, but found he was frozen to the ground; his feet would not move. He felt another power controlling him, and he whipped his head around.
Marinna stood at his back, her hands pointed at him. “I’m afraid I can’t let you interfere. The process has started. If you go to her now, it will be ruined. This is how it works with someone who can pull from the universe. This is how it starts, and the process must be completed. When it’s finished, she will either parish, or she will survive. The choice is hers to make. She either accepts it or she lets it consume her.”
Gareth turned his head back to Jasmine in frustration, thinking back to the day he had discovered his gift. Was Marianna right? Was this the way it had to happen? He felt helpless as he saw Jasmine in a silent scream, falling to her knees. He wanted to rush out there and help her, but he was being held hostage. He could only wait.
Finally, he felt her release the energy, and he sighed with relief. As Marianna’s energy and the energy from the cosmos was let out of Jasmine’s body, the rain stopped, the wind abated, and the lightning ceased its endless strikes upon the earth. The clouds cleared to reveal the sun, bright in its glory. Everything was dripping and wet as the birds started chirping from their nests in the trees.
As the last of the energy left her, she collapsed. Finally letting him move, Marianna stepped back into the cottage. Gareth ran to Jasmine’s side, pushing wet hair from her face. She was pale and her breath was shallow. He gathered her in his arms for the second time in as many days, and carried her limp body inside. He laid her on the couch, knowing she was going to be okay. Marinna was once again gone. He sighed and sat on one of the chairs to watch over Jasmine until she woke up, thinking he should rest as well.
He wasn’t sure what to do now. He couldn’t take her power away from her again. He couldn’t take her to the queen while she had possession of her power. Maybe he could take her straight to the Resistance. Maybe he could join the rightful side now, maybe they had enough information that he didn’t need to be a spy anymore. He splayed his legs out in front of him, stretching and yawning. He could figure it out later.