We didn't slow as we headed down a narrow street, really no more than an alley, and rushed across a square with a fountain spraying rainbow colored water. People -- and things -- scattered and I saw feathers, fur and perhaps even scales as we rushed past.
At the next corner, Maggie stopped long enough to catch her breath and talk to a window which repeated the news about where the others were going. She gave me a nod. "We don't want them to get too far up into North Street," she said. She patted me on the arm and then started running again.
Davis simply grunted and started out after her. I took another gasp of breath and followed. Davis, I was glad to see, had slowed down to keep with me. I was paranoid. I expected the colorful walls around us to grow arms and grab me. Having seen two huge buildings walk away, I didn't think this was such an unreasonable fear.
I worried about Edmond more, though, even while I wondered if this wasn't an attempt to lure me into some sort of trap. Or were they after Maggie or Davis? Had people toyed with me in order to get to either of them? From what little I could see, Maggie must be important to this place.
"Hey!" I said loudly.
They came to a quick, stumbling stop, both looking back at me with worry, doubtlessly looking for a new danger leaping out at us. I lifted my hand, indicating calm, while I caught my breath again.
"May be after one of you two, not me," I finally gasped. "Be careful."
Davis nodded. "He's right. Careful Maggie."
They slowed, though not by much. I wondered where North Street was and how long before we found it. Or were we on North Street already? I couldn't tell. I didn't ask.
When we did finally reach North Street I knew it, though. We stepped around a corner and ahead of us stood a street clothed in snow and ice, the wind escaping with enough cold so that we saw our breath while it dragged frigid fingers across any exposed skin.
I would have stopped except for three things: I could see movement not far ahead, I heard Edmond yelling (and not polite words, I thought), and my two companions dashed forward into the snow without pause.
I had hoped that this being Elsewhere, the snow and everything would be magical and not really as cold as I imagined it to be.
No, actually, this was worse.
I thought ice was forming on my skin and dragging down into my lungs. We had some snow most winters at home, but never anything as cold as this. I started to slow and probably would have fallen if Davis hadn't caught hold of my arm. The snow fell like a white veil over the world
"We need -- get to them before go farther north!" he shouted above the sudden roaring of the wind. "It'll just get colder the farther we go!"
"And we don't want to go to the Ice Dragon's realm!" Maggie shouted. She had dropped back to us too, taking hold of my arm as though she feared I would get caught by the wind and fly away. She was keeping her wings tight to her body, and I thought they looked like an extra cloak over her shoulders.
We trudged forward, snow already sticking to my tennis shoes and freezing my toes. I shoved my hands under my arms the way Davis did. I pretended it helped.
We could see tracks leading, but they were not human ones. These things had huge, flat feet with claws which dug into the snow. We were coming up fast on them, too, because I could hear the sound of their huge feet crunching ice. I could also hear Edmond hissing.
I think it must have occurred to all three of us at almost the same time that this might not be the best course of action, for the three of us to charge straight into the trouble ahead. We slid to a stop and I grabbed Davis who almost went down to my knees. We could hear the things ahead of us still, but now I noticed what I must have caught subconsciously; they were stamping their feet in the snow, but they were not moving.
Maggie signaled Davis to go off to the right. She took my arm and nodded ahead. I didn't argue. I didn't even argue when she marched right up to two of the biggest, hairiest creatures I had ever seen. I could barely see their faces through the thick long silver hair, most of it coated with ice and snow. They stood at least eight feet tall and five feet wide, with arms that reached well past their ample waists.
One of the two held Edmond in both hands, his arms stuck out ahead of him and the black cat twisting and hissing until he saw us.
"Oh, there you are," he said, immediately calmer. I didn't know why. The things huge paws could crush the poor cat. "Tell this furball to put me down."
"I think that would be a wise thing to do," Maggie said. She brought her staff up, the light bright.
"Why?" the creature holding Edmond asked, his voice reverberating through the snow. "Because you said so, little human?"
"Because you really don't want to make me angry," she said and sounded so assured that I took a step away from her in worry.
"Would you use such power for a cat?" the thing demanded.
"I have used it to save lesser creatures from danger," she answered and lifted her hand. "What makes you think you are immune?"
"Because our master sent us," he replied.
"I think you better go now," Edmond said, looking up the street.
Something very large was heading our way.
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