I guess there's a point where you stop panicking at the thought of something big and ugly coming to attack you. I stood there, trying to feel some sort of reaction other than 'what now?' as the sounds came closer.
"It's big," Maggie said. She glanced to the right. "Let's see if we can get away by going down the alleys where they can't follow. I think our best bet is to get straight to the Council."
None of the others argued. I figured I was just along for the ride. Well, the run.
At least we weren't heading back into North Street. Lord Snow was taking the lead, Edmond rushing to stay with him for the first few blocks, but then he dropped back to move with me. We'd all slowed as the loud noises receded for a while. I had the feeling they'd be catching up with us again soon.
"You're looking a little odd, Mark," Edmond said, looking up at me.
"Half elf," I mumbled.
"You really didn't know? How humans can be so dense is beyond me." He shook his head and pranced along side of me. "And you know, I would think finding out a cat can talk would have gotten more reaction."
"It's kind of all muddled together," I said with a wave of my hand. "A lot has happened in the last few days. I killed someone --"
"The person you killed was not the person you knew," Maggie said. She moved up on the other side, which was pretty tight in this narrow passage between walls made of black brick. "It had already turned --"
"You can't know that for certain," I said, feeling panic and disgust at what had happened.
"It's a good guess," she said, a hand on my arm. "Everything we've learned makes me think you saved others, Mark. I'm not saying that just because you're my cousin. I have a higher calling as a messenger for the council. I not only deliver messages for them, but I also to report anything unusual or dangerous to them. I know what I'm talking about, Mark. What you did -- if Davis and Edmond are right about you being half fae -- was instinctive and the best thing you could have done."
"If I am right?" Edmond said. "When have I been wrong?"
"You really don't want me to bring up stuff, like the carnivorous dandelion, right?" she said.
"No fair! You'd given me the catnip!"
She gave a quick grin. "What about the nuthatches --"
"Anyone could have made that mistake," he replied with his head coming up. "Any bird that runs upside down, darking up and down trees should be trying to create a chaos spell. And besides, you can't prove I'm wrong. After all, take a look around."
"Never argue that kind of stuff with cats," Davis said from behind.
"I'm going to scout behind us," Lord Snow said. We squeezed up against the wall to let him pass. "I won't be far."
We kept going while Maggie and Edmond argued about chaos and nuthatches. I was starting to side with Edmond on this one. Everything was starting to look more and more chaotic --
We came around a corner and faced the most frightening, horrible creature I think I'd ever seen. Though not as big as the dragon, it was still huge and looked like a cross between a warthog and a rhino, with grey warted hide and bright red eyes. Green slime dripped from the gigantic mouth and it hit the stone of the alley, creating plumes of green smoke.
I started to yell something --
"Anastasia! Darling!" Maggie shouted with delight.
"Oh! So good to see you Maggie!" the thing answered and gave a grin with far too many teeth. "Sorry about the drool. I can smell hobgobs somewhere around here and I would love to have a nice snack. But you, my dear, seem to be in trouble. Far too many things are on the move."
"We keep running into them," she said with a shake of her head. "Can you tell me where the council is meeting?"
"They've retreated to Forest Street," she said with a lift of her head in the general direction we'd already been going. "They're not happy about you being involved in this mess, but I know you'll talk your way out of it. Well -- and look at that. The high and mighty Lord Snow is walking with the rest of us lowly beings again, is he? Huh. Can't be bothered to come by for a friendly game of cards --"
"I'm working for the Ice Dragon, Anastasia. You know how it is," Lord Snow said with an obvious shrug. "I'll see if I can't get some time free after this mess is cleaned up. What are we going to do about these humans, huh?"
Anastasia gave a rumbling laugh that made even me grin. Why not? This couldn't get any more insane -- though maybe I shouldn't think along that line because it sure wasn't showing any sign of getting better. Then she gave a sniff and shook her head.
"Yeah, we have some hobgobs tracking us," Lord Snow said, glancing back over his shoulder.
"Sounds like snack time to me," Anastasia replied, her eyes narrowing and a drop of green drool hitting the stone in a little puff of smoke.
"I appreciate your help, my friend," Maggie said and even we close enough to pat the creature on the shoulder, which was a bit higher than her head. "You might be able to help another way, if you're willing."
"Say the word," Anastasia replied.
"That's it, actually. Can you spread the word that Mark is half elf and most likely a Protector? It might get some of these things to think twice about coming after us. We just need to get him to The Council and get him sanctioned before anything stops us."
"Go," she said with a bow of her head. "Good luck."
To Be Continued. . . .
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