David grabbed the ship's wheel from an exhausted Killian, and with his mouth set in a narrow line, fought to turn the old trawler from the impending path of the vortex. The pirate nodded gratefully, and with both hands now free, hurled a dual blast of magic into the portal's maw. But despite their efforts, the vortex still raged, its power drawing them ever closer, as the boat floundered helplessly in the violent embrace of the sea. Only Killian's magic was keeping them from being swallowed whole - but he was starting to weaken from the tremendous energy drain.
Struggling through the waves and icy rain lashing the deck, Robin Hood made his way to the helm. "I told the boys to stay below decks," he yelled, striving to be heard over the howling of the storm. Craning his neck, he glared at the vortex. "Where the hell did it come from?"
David shrugged, tightening his grip on the wheel. "Hell sounds about right."
"It seems to be getting closer," Robin observed. "Or are we moving towards it?"
"The vortex is not moving - but we're trapped by its magnetic pull, and being dragged closer by the minute. And we haven't been able to change course, although it's not for lack of trying." Another huge wave flooded the boat, and David twisted the wheel, just barely keeping them from going under. "I don't know how long Killian can keep that damned thing at bay." The boat dropped into another deep swell, moving closer to the vortex. David attempted to turn the wheel, but it refused to budge. Quickly, Robin threw his muscles into the effort, both men cursing, as they desperately wrenched at the helm, finally forcing it to turn, and righting the little vessel.
Killian stiffened, as agony shot through his entire body, and with a grunt of pain, he directed another bolt of searing light at the portal. He was barely holding on, his energy shot, his magic fading. In his mind's eye, Emma's face suddenly appeared, her eyes filled with love, but also with a look of determination that the pirate recognized all too well. "Beloved!" he cried. "Stay away, there's grave danger here!" Utterly drained, he sagged against the side of the boat, and to his surprise, felt an arm encircle his waist, and soft lips brush his. There was a whirl of shimmering radiance, and Emma was there, although he could see the worn planking of the deck through her slender body. "Swan?"
She smiled, and her voice seemed to echo in his head. "Yep, it's me, Killian - at least in spirit." She glanced over at Regina, whose translucent form stood beside her. "We're here to help."
"Swan - are you two - all right?" Killian asked, and with a shaky hand, stroked his lover's cheek. He wasn't sure how he was able to touch her, but damn, it felt wonderful.
"We're fine, Killian," Emma assured him. "I cast the astral projection spell - the one John Dee taught us." Freed of Killian's magic, the boat suddenly lunged forward, heading directly towards the portal. Waves swept the deck, drenching the three men, but passing through the women's spirit bodies in sparkles of blue and green iridescence. Emma shifted her gaze to Regina, and shouted, "Now!"
Regina nodded, and still holding onto Emma's hand, reached out, and wrapped her arms around the weary pirate. Hands clasped, the two women clung tightly to his waist, their heads laid against his heart, and as Emma chanted, they both began to glow, enveloping Killian in brilliant white light. As their magic sank into his body, filling him with the fire of their combined power, he gasped, his blue eyes widening. Still supported by the women, he straightened, and with a shout of defiance, lobbed a stream of raw magic, blinding in its intensity, into the very heart of the maelstrom. As the light poured into its shadowy depths, the vortex shuddered, and with an explosive roar, snapped closed, disappearing into the nether-realms that had spawned it. At once, the sea calmed, and as the little fishing boat rocked gently on the now peaceful waves, the storm clouds drifted away, revealing clear azure sky.
David and Robin cheered, pounding each other happily on the back, while Killian flashed a wide grin, and kissed his fiancée.
Still holding Emma's hand, Regina smiled, and cast a loving look towards Robin Hood. Strangely, neither Robin nor David appeared to be able to see her or Emma. Only the pirate could interact with them, but perhaps that was due to his magical abilities. A frown creased Regina's forehead, as she realized that Henry and Roland were not on deck. She turned to Emma. "Where are the boys? And I don't see Leroy."
"I'm not sure," Emma responded. "Killian? The boys and Leroy - are they okay?"
Killian pressed a kiss to Emma's forehead. "The lads are both safe, beloved. Robin took them below deck when the storm broke. As for Leroy..." His voice trailed off, and he shook his head. "I've no idea. He literally disappeared just as the portal opened."
"That's very strange," Regina commented, her eyes narrowing.
"Aye, 'tis indeed," Killian agreed. "If I didn't know better, I'd think that Leroy had conjured the vortex."
"Leroy?" Emma interjected. "How is that even possible?"
Robin and David were staring at Killian, with identical quizzical expressions. "Who are you talking to, Killian?" David inquired.
The pirate laughed. "I'm speaking to Emma and Regina." He bowed to the two ladies in question.
"What? They're here?" Robin exclaimed. "I don't see them."
"Neither do I," David said. "Where are they?"
Emma and Regina smiled mischievously, and started to giggle. Behind them, they heard the sound of running feet. Henry and Roland, sensing it was safe to venture from the cabin, had emerged on deck. Unaware of the women's presence, the boys ran past them, and joyfully embraced their male relatives, obviously relieved that everyone was out of danger.
The pirate glanced fondly down at his son, and ruffled his hair. "Both of your mothers are here, lad."
"On the boat? But where?" Henry wondered, glancing around, while Roland's dark eyes grew huge.
"Right here, next to me," Killian answered. He winked at his beloved. "Emma cast a spell that enabled her and Regina to travel to us in spirit. I don't know why none of you can see or hear them, although I obviously can. Thanks to their quick thinking and bravery, we are all alive to tell our strange tale. My energy and magic was utterly depleted - but they joined their magic to mine, and together we were able to close the vortex." He lifted Emma's free hand to his lips, and kissed it, then smiled warmly at Regina. "Thank you, dear ladies, we are forever in your debt."
With a contented smile, Emma leaned her head on Killian's shoulder. "You're welcome, dearest," she whispered.
"Yes, you're most welcome," Regina said. "I'm just thankful that Emma's ring alerted her you were all in danger - and that John Dee taught her such a useful spell. But I still don't understand what Leroy has to do with any of this. Where is he? And who - or what - created that portal?"
Killian stroked his chin, his brilliant eyes troubled. "An excellent question - And one I fully intend to have answered."
"This is all so bizarre," Emma declared. "A mysterious vortex opens, along with the mother of all storms - and Leroy is missing. None of it makes any sense." She sighed, reluctant to leave Killian's side. "But we'll figure it out later. Now that you're all safe, Regina and I need to get back - It's not a good idea to stay out-of-body for too long."
"Please be careful on your return trip, Swan - There are things lurking between worlds that it would not do to encounter."
Regina looked alarmed. "What sort of things?"
"You don't want to know," Killian replied. "Just stay connected to each other, concentrate on your destination, and get back as quickly as possible."
"Will do," the mayor promised. She glanced at Emma. "Ready?"
Emma nodded. "Give our love to Dad and Henry, and to Robin and Roland."
"I will, Swan."
She leaned forward, and gave the pirate a long, lingering kiss. "I love you, Killian - See you soon." And with that, she and Regina vanished from the deck.
"I love you too, my darling," Killian murmured. "Always." With a smile, he moved to the ship's wheel, and gave it a confidant spin. "Now then, gentlemen - Time for us to set sail to Storybrooke!"