The men with Marcus had fallen back, leaving him out in front of them before the oncoming Trepids. The ground was littered with those they’d already killed, but the approaching wave of violence was gargantuan in comparison. Maggie’s heart quickened with fear and she wondered what they would do. Marcus, standing twenty feet ahead of the others, still holding that wooden staff, would surely be crushed.
He stood perfectly still, staff in hand, as dozens of Trepids rushed toward him. It was an army, coming toward him like a moving wall. The other cave-dwellers were taking slow, tentative steps backward, toward the cave.
“Joan, what’s he…?”
Joan still held fast to Maggie’s wrist, but she gave Maggie a reassuring look.
With the Trepids less than ten feet from him, Marcus finally moved. He hefted the staff in his left hand, tossing it up a few inches so he could get ahold of it further down. Then he took a knee while also slamming the staff into the ground. He timed it perfectly so that his knee and the butt of the staff hit the ground at the same time. The wave of energy that radiated out from him was unlike anything Maggie had ever felt. She felt it in the ground below her. It came up through her shoes and into her body, spiking her heart rate and making her skeleton vibrate against her flesh. The very mountain quivered, as if from a seismic aftershock.
Everything was moving in slow motion; the power radiating from Marcus had caught and absorbed everything around him. His warped bubble of energy had trapped them all and, for only a heartbeat, connected them…
Then it was gone. Sudden vertigo made Maggie step backward with one leg to catch herself. It was like a dream where you feel like you’re falling until you kick yourself awake. The instant her foot hit the ground the dizziness was gone, and then there was only silence in the cave and Joan holding Maggie’s hand, looking at her speculatively.
Maggie looked out to where the battle had taken place. Her mouth dropped open. All the Trepids who’d been coming—every single one of them, and there must have been close to a hundred—had fallen to the ground. The utter silence made Maggie’s breathing sound loud, and she knew they were all dead. He’d killed them all.