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Ronne clutched the IDs in her hand, leaned back in the chair, and closed her eyes. She concentrated on the images of the two people, feeling the ring pulsate in time with her heart. A silvery glow spread around with a bright point far ahead, yet as close as a thought. A faint flap of wings nearby made her smile. *Part of You couldn’t keep away, could you, Shado?*
*The way things are going, it’s better to be safe than sorry. Do you mind?*
*Of course not.* She concentrated on the bright spot and passed through. Ronne found herself in a paved court stretching as far as the eye could see. Columns stood in orderly rows. From what she learned in her studies, the columns connected to the regions where the Shadows spawned. In an unknown way, they created a balance between the worlds. Light and Dark is what she read in one scroll. She didn’t understand and often wondered if anyone did. Across the way stood an archway made of polished black stone and filled with a dark glow. She glanced over her shoulder at the brightly lit white stone archway she came through. Human Shades limned in silver moved toward the black stone arch, accompanied by ravens. A brief flash occurred when they passed through. Other Shades stood or wandered about, their glow fading. Shadows were present, emitting a bone-chilling cold when they glided past. Ravens limned in silver flew back and forth; several passing through the arches. Others headed to distant reaches of the Court.
Her ring gave a brief pulse and Ronne used it to guide her. She passed among the Shades, giving wide berth to the Shadows. The ring offered protection up to a point, but if too many gathered, there would be trouble.
Shado took to the air. *I’ll see if any of the others will chat. Will you be all right?*
*Yes. See if you can find out more information on who wears the original ring. When I finish here, I’ll head back through the archway.*
*Understood.* He headed for a large group of ravens.
Now to find Michelle and Byron. Calling to mind their images, Ronne walked among the largest groups of Shades. Shaking her head, she passed on when none matched the pictures on the IDs.
She rubbed her arms when two large Shadows passed, the temperature dropping. Ronne stopped to watch; relieved they veered away from the bright archway. I’m in no mood to deal with them if they Cross to the living world.
A cluster of Shadows drew her attention when flashes of silver shone through. I bet that’s them. Using the pillars to hide her approach, Ronne counted the Shadows gathered. Six. I should be able to drive them off long enough for the other two to reach the archway they need. Ronne covered the last few feet at a run, using her spirit to increase the glow from her ring. When the light touched the Shadows, they had no choice but to move aside. “Michelle! Byron! Run through the gap!”
The two Shades hesitated before running, barely avoiding the touch of two Shadows. Ronne followed them, glancing over her shoulder to see what the Shadows were doing. The six moved, slowly at first, picking up speed when the effect from the light wore off.Wonderful. Now I must beat them to the archway. I bet going back will be rough. After I deal with Byron and Michelle, I’ll change to a raven for the journey back.
At the arch leading to the land of the dead, the Shades of Michelle and Byron waited, unable to pass. Ronne ran up to them. “By the spirit of Lady Raven, I free you from the hold of the Shadows. Go to your rest, my friends. You have served Her well.” The glow from the ring surrounded the two, and peaceful smiles crossed their faces. They nodded to Ronne, held hands, and passed through the dimmer arch. A brief flash and they disappeared.