Owen felt a surge of magic from Aeden. The stench eased dramatically as she sent a gust of wind into the lair that flushed the bad air out and swept fresh air in. Owen wanted to smack himself for not thinking of doing the same. “Thank you, Aeden. I wish I’d thought to do that,” he told her in a small voice. She gave a crooked smile and waved her hand toward the cavern. “After you, my lord.”
More cocoons hung from the ceiling of the cave. Aeden, Owen and the elves each conjured a ball of white light that illuminated the area. They moved cautiously along the walls into the cavern.
Owen guided his magelight to the top of the cavern. At least fifteen cocoons hung there. More lay shattered on the ground along the back wall.
He wanted to hurry over to what lay on the ground, yet his feet would not move. Fear of what he would find held him in place. He gave a snort of disgust at himself and started forward.
The first shell held the remains of one of his father’s soldiers. He gasped and reeled away, his hands covering his mouth. “It’s them,” he choked out in anguish. He hid his face in his hands. He did not want the others to see his tears.
Agony gripped his heart. Pain choked him. The same feelings that devastated him after the battle at the Keep overwhelmed him; so many friends and people he knew gone forever.
Fury exploded in his mind. With a shout of rage, he drew HeartStriker and released that rage against the lair itself. The webbing caught fire. He felt HeartStriker withdraw the magic from their bond.
“No,” roared Aeden and Saleth in unison. Magic snapped out and shrouded the flames, smothering them for lack of air. Aeden slammed a shield around Owen, preventing his magic from expanding.
Owen slowly lowered HeartStriker until the sword’s tip touched the ground. His face flushed and he panted, eyes darting around the cavern. Fury against the Dark burned in his veins. “I need to kill them,” he said in a low deadly voice. “I will kill them wherever I find them.” Rage strengthened his resolve and seemed to burn deep into his heart and mind. He struggled for control over it. HeartStriker helped him create a barrier that removed the immediacy of his feelings, set the rage a step away from him. His struggle to contain it finally succeeded. Aeden released the shield around him.
Saleth and the others watched his struggle for a short time, turning away one by one, resuming the work of lowering the cases from the ceiling to the floor. Only Aeden remained at his side. She stood, taut and silent, arms crossed over her chest.
“I thought I taught you and the others control,” she said, her voice sharp, each word filled with contempt. “I failed.”
Owen looked everywhere but at her. “I’m sorry. I…don’t know what happened,” he choked out the words.
“You lost control of yourself and your magic. We who hold this great power cannot, do not have the right to ever lose control. You must be as cold with it as the snow in winter. Rage may fuel it but wielding it must be cold. Cold as ice. Do you understand?”
He nodded, eyes focused to the ground. Misery and embarrassment kept him silent.
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