Excerpt from Rock Candy

     Return to the pedestal.
     Return to stone.
     That meant the danger was past. Molly was no longer in peril.
     Thabo began to walk where the compulsion led him. He heard Molly squeak in alarm as she scrambled out of his way. He caught the scent of lemons and vanilla, and he turned toward it.
     "Wh-who are you?" Molly stammered.
     "Thabo," he answered even as the compulsion made him walk past her. "Of Zeva's army."
     "You can't go inside!" she cried as she followed after him. She touched his arm and he hissed in pain. But it wasn't as bad as before, he realized. His skin was healing. Something about the halfway point between flesh and stone eased the pain. It wasn't just that his nerves were deadened. It was that as the magic took hold of his body, it also accelerated healing. It sealed crevices chipped away by time. It closed broken blood vessels and solidified cracked bones. Every moment he could hold off turning to statue was a moment when he grew stronger. But he didn't linger because of that.
     He slowed his steps as much as possible so that he could remain with her. Molly with hair like coiling fire who smelled of lemons. His curator. But only if she grew a lot wiser a lot faster.
     "He will come back," he warned.
     "Your uncle. Take precautions." There was stair in front of him. He knew not because he could see it but because he banged his toes on it. It barely slowed him, though the dull flash of pain told him he had little time to get to his pedestal. He was nearly solid now. He climbed quickly, then headed where the compulsion sent him.
     Three steps. Four.
     He knew his destination by the drag on his limbs. As if he were a metal man pulled to a lodestone. He lifted his knee to climb up, but there was no time. He solidified within inches of the base. Then he toppled forward, landing on his hip and belly. The magic thickened and he froze in this undignified position, ass up and face planted. Worse, his eyes were shut against the pain, so he could see nothing but blackness.
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