Matta had gotten down off the cliff before Lixand saw her in the uncertain light. The great bowls were half filled or filled with some kind of fuel that didn’t burn so well as the normal alcohol. That, and the smokey fires gave a wildly flickering dance of shade and shadows, so she was perfectly well hidden in the black and sharp-edged darkness under a fire bowl, but one more step would take her out into the open and the Prophet was calling, “Come, my children! Come to me! Hear me! Hear the truth that I and only I am telling you!”
Lixand bit his lip as she strained against his restraints and he frantically pulled on his unaccustomed power, throwing coil after coil around her, specifically around her head to try and knock her out. “Matta be still, stand still, don’t go to him!” he whispered frantically and the Prophet’s words faded in his ears as he focused hard on his mother.
Her hands came up, jerkily, fingers hooked into claws and Lixand nearly wet himself as he saw the blue/purple flaring wildly around them. Like a storm gathering, a funnel-cloud dropping from a greenish and bruised sky, the whole of a gray and black cloud mass just beginning to turn. The colour spread from her hands, up her arms, settling over her head and shoulders, and he could see the same silver that was his own new-born power laced through and through like strands of palladium thread stoking the raw power of her own manrauq. He shivered and dug down, clawing his hands into the rocks, grabbing frantically for every scrap of power he could seize, from the rocks, from the Mahid, still rocking back and forth in the plaza… but didn’t dare draw on the connection to his mother.
She tried to draw breath, hesitated, caught at her throat, clawed at her own mouth, steel claws drawing blood. She stared at the blood glistening on her fingertips, the red cutting through the fog building up around her. “L…Lixand?” but there was no air for her to say his name. The fog pressed against her face and her eyes went blank.
His arms nearly wrenched out of his shoulders as her hands came down with a soundless thunderclap, he bit his lip holding on, eyes closed against the glare in the other world. “Matta, no, no, stop.”
He flung another layer over her as she burned through the first, the Prophet thundered “WE SHALL BE FREE!”and every firebowl, every firepit, exploded in wild columns of flame before extinguishing completely, flinging the plaza into darkness like the Tunnel.
Lixand felt his mother collapse as she passed out though he couldn’t see her, and frantically dissolved his hold on her breathing.
“We are going to be free! We are going to be free!” A childish sing-song out of the darkness, but terrifying because it was sung in Matthas’s deep voice. It… skipped… around the blackness as people began calling out for lights and asking what happened. “Don’t you worry. Don’t be sad. I won’t kill them. That would be bad. Don’t you worry. I’ll just twist their heads off it will be all right, Lixy, Megmi! Smiley Mat is here!”
Then there was silence. Lixand lay, shivering, exhausted, sweating, mouth dry, as he sent out a spark with the idea of ‘fix my mother’ ‘save her from this’ and ‘make sure she’s all right’. But he was so tired he wasn’t sure it wasn’t just a spark from his imagination, or one of the spots dancing in front of his eyes. We were only suppose to gather more information, he thought.