I hovered in closer, completely unaffected by the awesome forces of nature firmly under my control. I reached out and grabbed Tony/Egamad with a whirlpool of my own, anchoring him within a spinning a wall of water. I pulled him toward me, seeing the bruises on Tony’s skin, feeling each twisted limb through the water, and the malice in his eyes that I matched with my own.
I didn’t doubt he was prepared to force me to do just that. I hesitated, staring straight at Tony’s eyes, trying to see past the demon, see the guy I knew trapped inside—
“Tony?” I gasped.
Egamad sneered. “Sorry, he’s unavailable!”
Pris, I don’t know what’s happening, but I can hear you. I can’t see you, and I feel like I’m stuck in a waterfall somewhere.
Yes; what’s going on? What happened to me?
Tony, there’s too much to explain, but right now you need to fight!
Fight? Fight what? What are you—
That thing that’s taken your sight, it’s invading your body and you need to get rid of it!
I could see flames in his dark pupils as Egamad snarled, “WE HAD A DEAL!”
“No! That’s impossible! NOOOO!”
“Tony!” I screamed. “Tony!”
Alex dashed toward me from the trees, not a single scratch or bruise on him. I kept Tony’s body cradled in my arms as I squinted up at him in confusion.
He noticed and hesitated. “What? Did something happen?”
He was asking if I was okay? He was the one tossed into an actual forest like a rag doll! “How are you still alive?” I blurted.
Wow, and now I’m thinking like a Greek scholar! I thought to myself.
My voice caught in my throat as my composure threatened to dissolve into tears again. “It’s too late,” I whispered. “Egamad was the only thing keeping him alive. I freed him, but he’s dead now.”
“Tony!” I just about shrieked his name, and threw my arms around him, feeling the warmth from his skin as he hugged me back. “Oh my gosh! I can’t believe you’re alive!”
Tony rubbed the back of his neck. "You mean, since we left camp in search of the temple? Well, it's a bit of a blur..." He scrunched up his face, trying to dredge up memories and distinguish reality from imaginary. "Like, literally. I remember walking in the woods, then everything just kept getting darker and darker, until I couldn't see anything... Then it was hard to breathe... I don't remember breathing... Almost like I--" He stopped and looked down at his rumpled, sodden clothes. I saw him glance over and see that Alex and I were both wet as well. "Did I drown? Or was it just raining really hard?"
"That's kind of all that I remember," Tony finished. "Just being in the dark, unable to breathe, floating like I was surrounded by water, and then--" He gestured around us. "Here... Hey wait," His expression turned to a frown as he glanced around in bewilderment. "What happened to the camp?"
Mom threw her arms around me, and I just about lost all composure then and there. "Oh, sweetie! We came as soon as we heard! I'm so glad you're all right!"
It figured that she would know exactly what to say to cover up what really happened.
Tony's face filled with skepticism, but he shrugged and ambled alongside Alex, toward the dock.
Mom rubbed my shoulder. "We're so proud of you, honey! You faced your first demon and won!"
I rubbed my nose in confusion. "What does that mean?"
"Hold up, you said our blood is mingled. Does that mean--" My thoughts scrambled so hard that my brain seized up. "Are you telling me that I'm--"
I felt my heart pounding in my ears. "Does that mean... I mean, does that make me--" What even were words right now?
Mom didn't quite turn toward me, but I saw her eyes shift. "Yes?"
"How long has he been serving as your stírigma?" The word rolled off my tongue.
We soared off together as the sun set behind us.