Chapter 23

Iris was sure that her shoulder was bleeding. It felt like it had been torn open. Yet when she touched it with her hand, it was dry and intact, with only the throbbing pain to tell her that something had happened.

Standing up, Iris took a step toward Lotus, who shrieked and pulled against Alder's hold on her, but then more pain exploded in Iris's chest and she collapsed to the ground, unable to breathe.

Alder laughed joyously. "There's nothing you can do!" he cried. "Talon will rip her to shreds without leaving a single scratch, and she'll die a pathetic death."

So that's what was happening. Iris hadn't known that animal spirit guides had the ability to hurt a solid human. She felt oddly rational, accepting the pain as if was an unavoidable part of her story, and she needed to play her part.

"Kara," she whispered. "Can you see him? Can you help me?" Yes, the wolf was there, watching the sky. "Can you try to stop his next attack?"

Iris couldn't sense the hawk, but she trusted that Kara could. Her life depended on it. Closing her eyes, Iris tried to reach through Kara's mind, to see what the wolf could see. She didn't know if it was possible, but her instincts told her that she should at least try. Kara's presence grew stronger, and she knew that she was accomplishing something.

There. Swerving around in a wide arc, the hawk was coming back toward her, ready to dive and attack again. Now was her chance.

"Are you ready Kara?" Iris asked, her muscles becoming tense. Give me an astral form, she prayed, so I can protect myself against him.

Iris's body fell limply to the ground, not moving, and not breathing.