(Link to Part 27)
I watched the pixies flew into a few fleecy clouds, magic sparkles dancing across their path. The sky looked the same as at home, and yet I felt a sense of distrust. Were the clouds really clouds? Were the pixies really going? Or would they swing back around and attack us again?
What next was going to leap out and try to stop me?
The others were moving on. Shouldn't we find a place to hide? What could this council do to help us?
The cats scouted, moving on ahead and out of sight. I tried not to panic every time they went around a corner. We'd started heading into the heart of the city , walking along quiet streets where at most I saw a face peak about between lacy curtains.
"Why is everyone avoiding us?" I finally asked. "At least the ones who aren't attacking us."
Maggie walked beside me, her face showing consternation that she didn't speak of aloud. I wanted her to open up to me. I needed to know what was going on and what to expect. I needed facts to decide my own choices, rather than being bunted along like a hockey puck.
"Normally the fae and the others are inquisitive when we get someone new coming across the border," she said. "But from the start, there has been trouble with you. They don't know why and that makes them less likely to come out and be friendly. No one wants to be caught in the crossfire."
"You sent out word that I might be a Protector. That will help?"
"It should. But even so, what's happened so far isn't going to calm them," she admitted. Then she dropped a hand on his shoulder. "You're here. I'll see you through this."
"Is there anyway to find out if Sheriff Creston is on this side?" I asked. That was the monster lurking in the back of my mind. Even the ice dragon didn't seem to have affected me as badly as the thought of Creston.
"As soon as we get you straightened around," she said and glanced over her shoulder. That didn't help how I felt. Then she shook her head. "Let's take a break."
"The cats --"
"I'll get them," Davis said and sprinted on ahead.
Seeing him disappear didn't help my growing sense of unease. Maggie, though, took me by the arm and herded me over to a bench by a wall. I looked up at a window and then to the roof, fearing something was going to drop down on us the minute we settled.
Maggie sat down. I did not.
"Mark," she said with a shake of her head.
"What am I supposed to trust here?" I asked.
"You can trust me."
I focused on her, staring for a moment, trying to parse those words. I felt as though the word trust had suddenly fled from my vocabulary. I trusted nothing right now.
"Sit down," Maggie said and patted the bench beside her.
I took a deep breath and settled at her side, forcing myself to be still when I heard a distant sound. And where were Davis and the cats? What had gone wrong --
"Calm, Mark," she said and put a hand on my arm and looked into my face. "You need to get control of your emotions. Being half-fae means emotions have far more power than they do for humans. If you are coming into your powers, then you need to be sure you know exactly what you are projecting. This could be dangerous, Mark. Dangerous for you and dangerous for anyone around you."
"Then you shouldn't --"
"I'm not going to abandon you in this mess. But I am going to make certain you're thinking clearly. We might have a long ways to go and Forest Street isn't exactly safe. I'm sorry that everything is such a mess. I wish Edmond had seen more or told me more. It's hard to say what he knows."
"He's on our side," I said and looked towards the corner, wanting them to reappear.
"Edmond is a unique spirit. Yes, I do believe he is on our side. He's stuck with me through a lot of problems already, and some of them of his own making -- but this one is different. There they are. You can relax now."
I looked up to see the three coming back. Nothing appeared to be following them, ready to leap out and attack them an us.
"I never imagined this place could be so dangerous," I admitted. My body was tense and I couldn't relax. This couldn't go on. "What should I do?"
"We're going to get you to the council. After that, things will be different," she said, but I thought I saw a little hint of distrust in her face. She must have realized and gave a shrug. "I'll see you through this. Come on."
I didn't argue. What was the use of just sitting there? Or trying to hide? Nothing I did was going to help.
"What does a Protector do?" I asked.
"You save those in danger," she replied. "Which you have done, even if you don't realize it. The troll threw Edmond at you when you ordered him to give you the cat."
"Nothing is chance in Elsewhere, Mark. That's the first thing you need to realize. Chance would mean magic without any control, and that would be chaos. A Protector has to work against the chaos. I should have considered it; I think we need to start training you right away. If this had been a normal walk to Council, we could have waited."
Davis had come to stand beside us. He looked startled. "Someone is trying to push him into using powers he doesn't understand so he does something that will tarnish his ability and maybe warp his powers. Yes, you're right, Maggie. And here is the first lesson. It's an old one: Keep Calm and Carry On."
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