(Link to Part 21)
Maggie took an unsteady step backwards as the sound of something huge moved closer. The ground trembled and the buildings around us shook. A few started inching themselves away, as though they thought about running and then decided it was not going to help. I thought I could hear the whisper of their worried voices as they trembled, bricks clicking.
Icicles fell from the edges of roofs like deadly spears. I moved closer to Maggie and Davis and saw how the trolls watched my every move with narrowed eyes.
So, I was wrong. They were after me. That didn't make me feel any better.
Edmond was trying to twist his way out of the troll's hands. He stared into the snow with his ear's back, but he didn't hiss. In fact, I had the idea that all my companions wanted to make themselves invisible right now.
The air grew considerably colder, which I had not expected. I yelped and wrapped my arms around my chest. Maggie looked my way, her eyes wide.
"Go," she said softly. "Go now. I'll try to talk to him."
It would probably have been wise to run. I didn't. I shook my head, my teeth chattering. I probably couldn't have run far without falling over and curling up anyway since I had never felt so cold in my life. When I looked down, I saw that frost had covered my arms. Edmond had a dusting of gray as well and he had begun to shiver.
Davis put a hand on my shoulder and I felt a wave of warmth wash over me.
"Thank you," I said, but softly. Even the trolls were starting to look worried. And the ground didn't just tremble now, it jumped. "We need to get Edmond and go."
"We couldn't go fast enough," Davis replied. The surfer dude looked odd here in the midst of this frozen hell. Snow coated his hair and clothing like white ash. His magic at least kept him -- and me -- warm, though. "I can't imagine what Ice wants with us."
Maggie glanced our way and nodded agreement. The trolls, though, were looking distinctly worried. Edmond had been reduced to meowing softly.
"Give me the cat," I said, trying to sound as though I could be some sort of threat.
The troll backed up a half dozen steps and then unexpectedly threw the cat at me. Edmond flipped through the air with a yowl and I leapt forward to catch him, but I slipped on the icy street and landed on my back, my head hitting the not nearly soft-enough snow. I couldn't move.
Edmond landed on me.
After I stopped seeing spots in front of my eyes, I found Edmond standing on my chest and looking me in the face. "Thanks, Mark. I might have broken something if I had hit the street."
"Ugh," I said.
Davis helped me up. I held on to Edmond who was trying to bury his nose under my arm. He shivered and so did I. I didn't think any amount of magic could help us now since the air itself felt like breathing ice. The wind came next and nearly knocked me back down. I wondered why we weren't retreating before this gale now that we had Edmond, but both Maggie and Davis had turned into the wind, eyes squinting as they looked for something.
They didn't have to look so hard.
And they could have mentioned I was about to meet a dragon.
I noticed movement; the creature was so huge I couldn't take in the full meaning of what I saw until the head lowered and fixed me with a dark blue-eyed stare. The wing's moved and nearly brushed on buildings that leapt away barely in time. Their movement created a gust of wind. Snow blinded me and a horrible, primeval fear of something huge and dangerous being close by would have gotten me to run in sheer panic if I could have moved at all. Flight or fight wasn't an option. Moving at all wasn't an option.
Edmond had taken one look at the dragon and somehow got himself completely under my shirt. I suspected I would have claw marks in interesting patterns, but I couldn't feel them yet.
The dragon's blue and silver scales glittered in the wane light of winter as snow piled up around us, though the wind he brought brushed it away almost as quickly. I could not see the full body with the crystal snow swirling around and my eyes watering from the cold. Huge, my mind said. I would not imagine another word.
It stopped. I saw cold blue eyes blink and narrow, as though noticing us was
"Lord of Winter, King of Ice," Maggie shouted into the wind. "We greet you with all respect!"
The dragon lowered his horned head, staring at the three of us with an expression that could only be disdain. Cold breath brushed against me and ice froze in my hair.
"Trouble in the land of the fae," the dragon rumbled, his breath a stinging frigid fog of the coldest winter. "Remember."
His word was magic so strong that I could see the exact moment before I came into fae: Sheriff Creston stood at the edge of the gate, his gun raised and aimed at me. I didn't need to relive this moment. I could see Creston's face, a mask of rage and anger, but no sorrow.
I wanted out of the memory, but the scene stayed, branded into my mind by the words of the dragon. Edmond gave a little mew of despair and I heard Maggie gasping for breath. They must be sharing the moment as well. And Davis? He hadn't been there.
"The wrong must be righted," the dragon said.
The scene faded slowly. I went to my knees, bowed my head and expected to die before I took another breath.