She hurried from the keep into the forecourt. There she turned and stared at the gray stones of the tower. Sadness blossomed. The keep was home and family. She brushed her hand over the rough stones. With a sigh she sank on a bench and leaned against the wall. Warmth and comfort seeped from the surface.
Ash opened herself to the winds of thought. Without warning, a stab from the highlands touched her. Like the sting of a scorpon’s tail someone tried to jab into her mind. Help! She slammed her barriers tight. Who? Not Dom Senet. His touch felt oily and tempting. This had been crude and demanding.
Mikel and Kirlon slid onto the bench on either side of her. Sydli crouched before her. Their arrival brought comfort to ease the chill of fear.
“What was that?” Sydli asked.
Ash released a held breath. “Not the Dom. Rougher. Greedier.”
“What were you trying to do?” Mikel asked.
“Listening to the winds of Easren.”
“Good idea but we should form a circle,” Kirlon said. “I’ll block against intrusion.”
They clasped hands. Ash felt the merge form. She reached for the winds of Easren. Cries of hunger, fear and despair echoed through the meld. Rain fell two days out of four. Rivers and streams overflowed their banks. Soon melt from ice and snow in the highlands would add to the deluge.
When Ash broke the circle she met the gaze of her friends. “The Doma was right. If we don’t go now there will be no spring planting. Famine and death will follow.” She rose. “The time is now.”