Aunty Mai pushed her dark hair behind her ears and peered at the boy through her gold spectacles. She rolled up her sleeves. ‘Kai, we need to burn some osha root,’ she said. ‘Indie, get me some hot water and a clean cloth.’
Kai stood in silence, watching Brek fumble with wood and flint. The medicine man handled his tools gently, as if he feared they would break. He crouched by the pile of sticks, blowing softly and cupping his hands around the flame.
Dargan threw his arms in the air. His whole body shook, but he remained rooted to the spot. ‘I will find you,’ he called, as Brek led them deeper into the forest. ‘I will not let you do this.’
‘The leader of the Dasa Warriors is a man called Mugadi,’ he said as she passed him a spoon. ‘Have you heard of him? He has blocked the road through the mountains so no one can get through. He says Ballyndor is weak and the blockade will make it weaker.’
Nima left the shelter of the cave and walked slowly toward the shadows. She kept her head bowed and didn’t look up, even when she was right among them. They paid her no heed, and she leant down quickly and snatched the closest melon in her small brown hands. Then she scampered back to the cave and sat beside the shaman.
‘The Dasa Mountains are dark and terrible,’ she said, ‘Shaman Yanti has cast all sorts of evil spells over them. Kalika magic doesn’t work there. Chief Wicasa’s spells are useless. I don’t see how Brek expects you to do this.’