I tried to grab at the edges of the bridge as we went over. My fingers clawed at one long root, but I lost my old and I have a shout that was more frustration then fear as we tumbled downward. I felt badly about Edmond. Odd idea, but I couldn't accept my own near death. I just flailed like I could catch hold of the air and fly.
I had done so many stupid things. I couldn't even grab hold of Edmond now and try to protect him in some way. I tried to call up magic. My brain couldn't get around it and the green, wild trees were closer. No time.
And we slowed.
After a moment, I realized I felt the tingle of magic and it was not my own. I craned my neck around and looked upward. Maggie was hanging over the edge of the bridge, her hands moving, her voice a distant whisper.
I started to lift, slowly, slowly -- but I could feel the strain of her magic and I knew it wasn't going to hold. She would never get us to the bridge.
"Down!" I shouted. I hoped she could hear. There was a growing racket of birds below me now. "Down! Take care of them! Get everyone to safety!"
Davis was standing beside her, a hand on her shoulder. Even with his added power we were still jerking up and down. She tried to get us back to safety. I tried to find my magic as well -- but in the end we suddenly just fell.
It was not far, at least. The canopy of the jungle below was even covered with dense, green leaves. Animals danced away in shock as Edmond and I hit. Slowed again. Kept going.
I had sense enough to grab hold of vines, mostly because I feared they were going to wrap around my neck and strangle me. My hands slid along the first one, the vine burning and cutting my palms. The next was better and I came to a stop dangling in a mess of vines that looked far too much like a giant spider web around us.
"It's a long ways down still," Edmond said. He had attached himself to my leg, claws dug in. I didn't complain.
"Tree -- to the right," I gasped. Holding on was difficult. "I'll swing that way. Can you grab it?"
"Yes, if we get close enough," he sounded calmer than I expected. Maybe it was a kind of shock because I felt the same way. "But what about you?"
"Branch. Lower. Drop down to it -- but dangerous for you on my leg."
"Let's do it before you fall."
I started moving my way along the vine, getting closer to the big tree trunk. Things were moving around us but I refused to look. I had one thing to worry about now and that was getting Edmond to the tree trunk and relative safety.
My hands were not going to hold out much longer. I could feel blood making them slick. We were close though. So I tried swinging that way -- and lost one hand hold. I grabbed again with a gasp of fear and pain.
"Swing again. I'll jump," Edmond said.
"Too far --"
"No. I can do it. Swing."
I did. He launched off of my leg leaving scratches through the jeans. I tried to twist and see. I heard him hit, then a frantic scratching sound --
"Got it. Holding on. Now you get down to somewhere safer. It's not far to the branch there. It's wide and can hold you."
I looked down, hoped I had the angle right, and dropped. It was only about ten feet, and I didn't hit too hard, but it bruised my knees and I fell forward, wrapping my arms around the branch. I might never move again. I just laid there with my head head on the wood and listened to what was doubtless a thousand dangerous things around me -- because everything was dangerous -- and really couldn't manage to care at all.
I lifted my head and gave Edmond a weary smile. "Yeah, alive. This is a mess, Edmond. What do we do now?"
"Something I hope humans are better at than cats," he said, glancing over the edge of the branch.
"Climbing out of trees."
Okay, that amused me and it helped. I maneuvered around and sat up, glancing at the ground. Maybe three hundred more feet down and I didn't see any handy Tarzan (or more likely George of the Jungle) vines dropping all the way to the ground.
The tree trunk, though, presented some better options. It had ridges and branches every few feet and the sight of it actually gave me hope. I wanted down on solid ground, though I knew better than to think that would be safe. I only rested for a few more minutes, though. I tried not to think about how we had no supplies and no weapons. No clue where to go. I looked up and found that the canopy had seemed to snap back into place and I couldn't even see the bridge from here. I could hear no sounds of others above us and we might as well have been a thousand miles away or in yet another reality. I couldn't tell.
I just climbed down, Edmond to my right side. I wasn't alone. I'd always remember how he leapt out to join me when I was falling. He couldn't have known we would survive.
Down and down and finally my feet touched a softer surface than another tree branch. I looked down in shock to find I was standing on the debris at the bottom of the tree. Ground, more or less -- it was a bit spongy here, though I thought it looked more solid a few steps away.
"Made it," I said.
And something moved under my feet.
To Be continued. . . .