"Help me Cropper…I can't stop it!" Sara shrieked, raising her arms against the tornado.
Cropper froze, unsure of himself.
In a pact with the Magician, he'd led her here under the pretense of giving her the Blood Stones. Now, he was beginning to regret that decision.
Of the remaining witches, Sara was by far the most powerful and the Magician sought to rob her of her power and add it to His own.
For his betrayal, Cropper was promised the prize of his dreams: restoration to the full-fledged being he once had been before his encounter with Shadow, twenty-five winters ago. Wandering into her territory by mistake that day, she'd taken him by surprise and changed him into his present lowly form.
Though he'd managed to escape with his life in the end, he had to come to understand that death at Shadow's hands would have been more merciful.
Since then, he'd spent his days foraging and scrounging for the tiny scraps left behind by the Powerful Ones, whenever they passed through.
For them, an elemental was easy prey. He'd been spotted a handful of times in all and forced to flee as they chased him into the mountains.
Until now, his only hope of salvation had been to find Shadow and somehow plea with her to change him back. But that hope had died when the Magician consumed Shadow's power.
Visiting him in a dream one night, the Magician promised Cropper restoration in exchange for brining Sara to the mouth of the mountain cave where the Blood Stones were hidden.
Because the Stones were the single source that would enable Sara to defeat the Magician and restore balance, she had agreed to the quest. Ironically however, until she possessed them fully, her very proximity to them would weaken her substantially, allowing the Magician to capture her. In this manner, the Magician planned to use them in an unfair advantage to overpower her.
The chance to become whole again was more than Cropper could pass up and he agreed to the betrayal. Convincing Sara to follow him to the Stones had been the easy part.
But now, forced to watch helplessly as the Magician destroyed her, Cropper's blunder pulled at his heart.