Heartweed: Chapter 30

This is the beta version of my novel. If you are a new reader – welcome. You can read from the start here.

New sections are released every Tuesday and Friday. Please let me know your opinion in the comments section. Thank you for reading.


Chapter 30

Artie hurtled through the shadows. This time there was no dizziness, no disorientation. None of the crushing and none of the unpleasent prickling. The parasite towed her through it like it was slick oil.
She saw the outlines of Faerie begin to resolve around her; the swirling shimmers that she had seen overlaying the world multiplied and swarmed and then burst into incandescence,
Artie fell through into Faerie. Above her loomed the grey bulk of March’s manor house. The air around her was saturated with magic. She could feel the parasite swelling as it leached the power from the air – growing stronger.
It lashed out at her. The cracks in her mind that it had wormed its way into before it now rived wide open. It reached into her thoughts and consumed them with the same greed that it fed on the magic around her.
Every muscle in Artie’s body began to convulse. She collapsed into a quivering heap on the ground. Teeth gritted she tried to move. The tincture bottle in her pocket dug into her hip. She couldn’t even force a fingertip under her control. Her body belonged to the parasite. It soaked up the magic, together they were so heavy, so bloated and still so hungry.
She mustered together the shards of her thoughts. All that was left of herself formed into a single red hot point. She forced it into flame. Burn.
The parasite shied away out of her mind, allowing her to pull more of herself into the flame. Artie forced more of her concentration into the flame; it blazed hotter, burning the parasite further from her mind. It fled from the fire of her thoughts, but for every intrusive shoot she burned away three fresh ones sprouted.
She could not turn any thoughts to moving and her concentration was flagging. It was only getting stronger, and Artie weaker, she wouldn’t be able to hold it off much longer. The parasite would take her; she would die here, insane, while it gorged on magic. She would never be able to avenge Alex, to protect her parents, to kill that bastard March.  The fire in her mind flared like phosphor; the parasite flinched.
March’s sneering face flashed into her mind again. And again came the flare. The parasite flinched back further. I can work with this, Artie thought. She took all her grief and all of her anger and poured it into the flames. They erupted into searing white. The parasite’s tendrils fled from her mind, shrivelled and squealing.
“Get out of my head,” Artie growled through her clamped teeth. SHe clenched her fist. The fingers curled slowly, still resisting. Inch by inch she forced her hand into her pocket. Towards the bottle. All the while she stoked the flame of her hatred.
Her hands shook with violent tremors as she brought the bottle to her face. She pulled out the top with its dropper, but she jerked and it fell to the ground. Liquid splashed from the bottle all over her shaking hands and her face. Artie bent her aching neck and her lips made contact with the bottle.
She gulped a mouthful of the tincture. The strength of it made her mouth pucker. Already she could feel the parasite weakening and curling in on itself. The memory of it forcing itself into her mind was still strong; Artie took another mouthful, enjoying its discomfort.
Slowly she sat up, every muscle in her body ached from the convulsions. She felt weak, like she was just a thin skin filled with water. She plucked the stopper from the ground and fumbled it back into the bottle. Through spilling and the size of gulps she’d taken the bottle was now less than half full.
Artie passed the back of her hand across her forehead. It was cold and beaded with sweat. Her breathing was fast and shallow and every inhalation brought a wave of dizziness. Her vision started to blur; she could no longer see the magic swarming around. The parasite was curled in her chest – cold and still like a dead thing. Had she killed it? And killed herself in the process? Artie swayed. Her head drooped. Maybe if she just lay down here and slept for a while.
A cold, hard line pressed into the edge of her throat. Artie raised her eyes along the long, thin blade to the hand and grey-clad arm that held it. One of March’s lackeys swam in and out of focus in front of her.
Artie’s eyelids fluttered. Her mouth was dry. The pressure of the blade lessened as she fell backwards, away from the blade. The world blurred and danced before her eyes. Artie giggled.

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