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Illyra’s mind strained against the fear that seized hold of her — spectral wolves swarmed around her and Elysia, and she could feel their strange, stinging breath on her arms as they snapped at her. There wasn’t enough room for her to call up a protective cloak of shadow, and she couldn’t leave Elysia’s side — she was trapped. They were trapped.

She dashed one of the beasts to pieces with a lash of her magic, and another grabbed her arm before she could strike again. The spectral wolf tried to wrestle her to the ground and she pulled back reflexively, but it only sank its fangs deeper into her arm.

Then Illyra noticed the thread of magic she’d already wrapped around the creature — she grabbed it with her free hand and yanked, simultaneously unwinding her magic and unraveling the creature she’d bound with it. A faint vapor was all that remained, and that quickly faded back into the aether.

Though its fangs no longer dug into her arm, the beast had left Illyra with a messy wound. She spat on the ground — her moment of panic had passed, and in its place, she found a dry, unsavory pessimism. She knew they were going to be overwhelmed by the spectral wolves long before Obadai and the others showed up.

Unless — Illyra could see a few of the cultists emerge from the ruined temple. It was a long shot, but she thought she could hit them with her magic if she were to only reach out. Her heart leapt. She could see their leader, the ritualist who’d conjured the swarm of spirit-wolves. It was worth it. If she could take him down, it might break the cultists’ morale, they might call off the attack. She allowed herself that hope.

Illyra ran her fingers along the wound on her arm and cringed. She withdrew her hand and a curse rumbled in her throat — she flicked the blood in the direction of the cult-leader, and her anger and spite followed suit. A mass of shadowy black tentacles surged out of the ground at her feet and flooded over the spectral beasts between Illyra and her prey. The cult-leader saw the tentacles and brandished an amulet.

Whatever he intended to do, it didn’t stop the writhing mass of shadowy energy from slamming into him and lifting him off his feet. The magic suspended him in the air for a moment, and wormed through an open wound it tore somewhere in his body. Shadow-tendrils streamed from his eyes and his open mouth before the magic dropped him back on the ground. He was still holding his amulet, on his feet but about to collapse.