Whatever stood before us was huge, had too many teeth, and didn't like us. I could see and feel all of that. I didn't care. There is a point where any person can be pushed beyond all hopes of logic. I had just hit that spot.
"I don't know what the hell you are and personally, I don't care!" I stalked forward. Maggie grabbed at my arm and made a soft sort of whimpering sound. "What do you want?"
"Not going to happen," I said. I did stop moving forward when Davis took hold of my other arm. He was stronger than Maggie. "Go away."
"You not master me."
"I don't care. You are not going to kill me."
I had, I realized, confused the thing. It wasn't stupid. I could sense intelligence there, and then realized something else. It hadn't come up from behind us.
"The local people sent you. Go tell them we are simply passing through. We will do them no harm if they do us none. You have my word."
The word of a Protector. I was testing it out, here in this place that none of us really understood. I think Maggie caught on first. She brought her staff around and up, the light glowing softly and without any menace. We have power, I thought.
"Will speak to they," it said and seemed to shrink and disappear.
"We better get moving," I said. "A show of good faith and to prove we really are trying to get out of this place."
"That was -- that was --" Edmond repeated. He walked past me and then looked back over his shoulder. "That was insane. Don't ever do that again."
"It worked," I reminded him, but didn't deny the insanity part.
"We can't just keep walking and walking," Davis said, though he was the first to start out. "We'll have to find a place to rest before too much longer."
I started to argue, but then realized how much my legs ached. "Yes, you're right. Let's go as far as we can. I can carry you, Edmond."
"Are you going to fall again?"
"I hope not."
"Huh." He came over and rubbed against my legs. I had to brace myself to keep from falling over. "Okay," he said. "You seem steady enough. You can pick me up."
Maggie turned away. I didn't know what Edmond would do if she started laughing out loud. I wasn't even certain what I would do. Maybe throw Edmond at her.
We started on.
I was aware of the others watching us now and then. As long as they kept back, I didn't care.
"They must have had some battle with the people in that damned glowing city," I said as I walked by Davis. I noticed he was starting to look very tired. We'd be stopping soon. "I suspect they don't get many strangers wandering around here."
"None that survive for long from the sounds of things," he agreed.
"Do you think Lord Snow and Lord Cayman came through here?" I asked. I could not make myself refer to the fae as my father. That was going to take a while longer.
"I don't think so," he said. "They weren't that far ahead of us and I sensed no real travel in time as we came here. Did you, Maggie?"
We caught her in mid yawn. She shook her head.
"Time to rest," I said. Edmond was asleep in my arms.
"Do you think it's safe?" Maggie asked. She glanced to the right, knowing someone was there, just as I did.
"Not safe, but not safe to go on like this, either."
There was a bit of a cleared area just ahead. I thought that might be the best place to settle in, where we could hear and see anything coming for us. We would need a guard and to take shifts. I wanted to say so to the others, but as soon as I sat down, I lost all idea of what I should say or do. I had to leave it in their hands. I closed my eyes.
Odd dreams that were not entirely dreams. I could tell. Something looked down at me from a great height. Found me interesting but not something she would trust. Too much like the others. But the magic -- oh yes, that intrigued her. Not safe to leave us with such powers --
Edmond bit my ear. I cursed as I came awake, and the sound woke up the other two. We'd put Edmond on guard? I didn't remember --
I realized there was a glow to the air around me, like a search light. I looked up to find the source, not at all surprised to find the city directly overhead. With a snarl and a wave of my hand, I dispersed the light, which had been trying to drain magic from me.
In the last moment I felt the surprise of whomever had been invading my sleep. Whomever it was -- and there was a human enough feel -- I had surprised her.
"What is going on?" Maggie asked.
I told them what had happened. "Thanks for waking me up, Edmond. Though my ear still hurts."
"We'll get you an earring," Maggie offered with a smile. Davis looked it over and it felt better.
"Get some rest, both of you. And Edmond. I'll be awake now." I looked up at the sky and the odd city. What was up there? What did it want with us?
I had a long, quiet time to think about it. The place was unnaturally silent. The glowing city stayed in place, as though tethered to the ground. Why didn't it fall? Magic, of course -- but the amount made me realize how much power we were dealing with this time.
I wanted to find the door and leave. Whatever had happened here was dangerous, but not my problem.
Oh, but I knew it would be.
To be continued. . . .