One by one, the swirling dust devils gathered at the base of Cedar Knoll, the drove’s path through the fall grass of Harper’s Field a twisting labyrinth. They waited, gathering dry leaves and pine needles into their vortex, darkening their malevolent features.
An angry chittering built to a threatening crescendo, startling a flock of thrushes into abandoning their nests adding their distressed staccato to the discordant strain. Sabina turned to look skyward, shielding her eyes from the last of the sun’s light, watching the birds frightened flight.
A prickle of unease ran shivers along her arms as she searched the sky for the cause of her discomfort. The birds gone from the trees, the copse fell into an eerie quiet. The devils’ chittering only grew shriller.
Sabine wended her way through the pines, touching each bole as she went gaining strength and courage with each step. She moved furtively to the edge of the knoll, peering down at the devils.
Still seething, they roiled over each other like a pit of writhing snakes, their keening reaching an ear-splitting volume. Sabine held her hands over her ears, but could feel the sound reverberate through her bones.
As if sensing her close presence, the devils became more frantic, melding into one immense funnel but not moving farther up the slope, stopped as if by some invisible wall.
Sabine knelt, inching forward on her knees to peer over the rim. Her talisman, a pendant crafted by her gran from a piece of polished amber enfolded by intricately knotted silver threads, tumbled from her tunic and dangled from her neck.
The effect was immediate. The devils shrank back, dividing back into separate forms, their keening changing pitch, becoming more cries of fear than of malice. Sabine took hold of the pendant. Warm in her hand, it began to glow, flashes of golden light escaping from between her fingers.
Where an amber finger of light touched a devil, it faded like fog melting in sunlight. One by one, the devils dissipated. The final devil transformed into its natural form before intoning its warning.
“Your powers are not enough to battle us,” it said as it retraced it’s path away from the knoll. “This time luck was with you. We will return for what is ours and you will not prevail.”
Sabine scrambled backward from her perch, her heart pounding.
“Oh, gran” she said. “Where are you when I need you?”