“Fall from sky, you!” the woman accused again. I could see her more clearly now. She had leaves in her curly, dark hair and layers of cloth wrapped round her skinny body. She held a spear with ribbons on it and shook it at the sky in the general direction of the city above us. “Not landers, they. Fall from the sky, bad bad —”
“Shall I bite her in the knee?” Edmond suggested.
Which won an odd reaction.
She screamed and backed away in haste. The others yelled in fear. Edmond stopped and looked around, his tail coming up, quite pleased by the reaction.
“Oh, hold on there Missy,” Edmond said and started to stalk forward. “I am not now, nor have I ever been food —”
“Edmond, I think you need to come back now,” I suggested.
He turned to glare at me and realized what I had seen. The others were moving in with their spears up and he was an awful easy target out there in the open. He backed up a couple steps then turned and walked back to us. I can’t say he was safer standing between Davis and me, but at least he wasn’t going to be that easy to kill.
Of course, with that many spears, I was kind of thinking we were all going to fall together.
“Evil, they!” the woman shouted, which sounded much worse than bad bad.
“We are not —”
She lifted the spear again, this time pointing at us.
“Enough!” Maggie suddenly shouted. She stepped forward, her staff in hand and the stone at the top starting to glow, which I think came from her anger. "Enough of this! You will not hurt Edmond --"
"Back evil, you!"
"We are not evil!" She sounded as short tempered as I had ever heard her. Her wings, which she hadn't unfolded in a while, sprang out in full form so that they blocked far too much of the view. I was about to complain when I realized everyone had gone silent.
"Magic, you," the woman whispered. "Not sky, but magic."
"Yes, I have magic," she said. She took a step forward. "Now tell me --"
The strange woman cried out in fear and took off at a run. So did everyone else.
In a moment they entire city felt empty again.
"I don't think I'm going to like these people much," Edmond said.
"Just stay close to us," I said. I picked the cat up. "We don't want to lose you."
I looked back to the fallen building, but nothing stirred there. I kept having the feeling of something following us, though. Maybe it was just my well-founded paranoia that everything was out to get me.
"Something more than the were-bear might have come through," I said, hoping that I didn't sound too crazy.
The other two nodded emphatically.
Well, at least I wasn't paranoid alone.
Maggie brought out the compass again. It pointed in the same direction, which looked like a long line of endless shadows. We might be walking for hundreds -- maybe thousands? -- of miles for all I could tell. We did have magic here. I even had some, though I wasn't very confident to use it unless I had to. I had to believe, though, that magic would help us get out of here.
"I wish I knew more about who I am."
Maggie looked at me, frowning. Then she gave a shrug. "Only you know who you are, Mark. What you learned since we got here doesn't change you, at least not in the basics. Lord Cayman, your father -- I can't tell you much about him, either, really. He's powerful, but he's always been quiet. Davis, do you know anything?"
"Not much," he admitted. "I knew there was some sort of family feud there, but I stay clear of fae feuds."
"Until now," I said. "As long as you stick with me, you're pretty much in the middle of one."
"True. But having seen Darman . . . Well, this is more about choosing the right side. Cayman and you are certainly preferable to that madman."
"Where do I fit in? I can't possibly have any real standing in the fae world."
"Fae politics are strange," Maggie replied. She stopped in the shadow of a mostly ruined building. "I don't think humans can understand it at all because it has to do with fae links. You might, eventually, once you start being more fae. If you ever do."
The idea of becoming more fae bothered me. I didn't want to change. But I had, hadn't I? I was a Protector now, and I felt that even here in an odd way. I could feel things moving if I concentrated, but doing so made me less aware of where I was.
I tripped and fell. Edmond barely leapt out of my arms in time as I went down.
"Maybe I'll walk," he said.
"Sorry, sorry. I was just -- feeling things out. I know there is something more coming after us. Maybe more than one. And really, they're after me, you know."
Davis grabbed me by the arm and hauled me up. "You think that's going to make a difference to us?"
"It should --"
Maggie came over and stood in front of me. "It doesn't make a difference. If they were after me or Davis, would it make a difference to you? No. Stop saying stupid things. We have to get moving."
I wanted to argue. I shook my head and stood firm, and I couldn't even say why until the huge, black creature rose up right where we would have been standing if we'd moved.
Edmond hissed. I might have as well. The big huge thing didn't look at all impressed as it opened it's mouth and showed rows of sharp teeth. I thought we ought to back up . . . But then something howled behind us.
Well, fine. I was annoyed now.
To Be continued. . . .