I stepped back. Edmond stepped back.
The idea of the city falling . . . Yeah, that made me rethink what we really might want to do.
"That makes no sense," I finally said and dared look to the woman. I saw her only as a tall, dark-clad shadow. Probably fae, but he couldn't tell. "How did it stay up before you grabbed Lord Cayman?"
"I stole the magic from others, of course."
Like she had tried to do with me when we'd first arrived. "You already had Lord Cayman when you attacked me, though. You didn't need my magic then."
"Lord Cayman did not cooperate," she said. My eyes shifted to the man trapped in the magic. His hand moved slightly. "He did afterwards, though."
She didn't know why. I sensed that much -- that she had no idea Lord Cayman was my father. "You trapped him here where he will die."
"Oh, not for a long, long time," she said, stepping closer. Fae for certain, but she had a very lean, angular look, with wide shrewd eyes. "He shall bring back the glory of my city and the others will return, knowing they were wrong to flee. We shall sail the skies in beauty."
Lord Cayman's hand moved a little more. I knew this must be difficult for him. I wondered what signal he was trying to give to me.
"They left you," I said, trying to drag out the conversation a little longer before I needed to make a decision of any sort.
"Fools. Weaklings. Fearful of the old gods But there are no old gods; there is only us and the power we hold and use."
"Maybe you're right," I agreed. I didn't know anything about old fae gods and I was not about to bring human religion into this conversation. "But if so, doesn't that mean you have an obligation to do good with it? If you want to be a god, shouldn't your actions be god-like?"
She stared at me as though I had just muttered something in a foreign language she had never heard before. And then she laughed. This was not a promising sound, this near shriek that held no humor.
Lord Cayman's hand still moved slightly and I thought he must be trying to give me some sign, some signal of what to do. Panic had started to inch up through my mind which did not make this any easier. I didn't want the city to fall. I didn't want to leave Lord Cayman in place -- besides knowing that none of us would leave this reality without him.
His hand moved again.
What did he want?
"I think, boy, that you need to back away from there," the woman said. She started to move around to my side, her hand raised and I knew I didn't have a chance to battle her. The stark smile on her face showed that I had no chance to reason with her, either.
Lord Cayman's hand moved again, this time a sudden jerk upwards.
This was a moment of trust.
I paused a heartbeat, a heartbeat more -- but our crazed fae friend had almost reached me and she would end any choices, for good or bad. I looked into Lord Cayman's face.
And then I reached into the light, grabbed hold of his hand, and yanked him out.
We were falling, city and all.
I started to cry out in surprise -- but Lord Cayman had hold of my hand still and with one quick move he spun me around and into the light where he had been a moment before. Tendrils of power surged through me, caught hold of me, began draining --
We were no longer falling.
But I was trapped. Betrayed. I stared out, feeling the rage start to take me and knowing there was nothing I could do. I couldn't even turn to find Edmond, to tell him to run and escape.
Failed because I had trusted.
"Ah. I suppose that is a logical decision," the woman said. "And a reasonable compromise."
She gave a bow of her head.
"Except that I am not in the mood for compromise, Potila," Lord Cayman said. I could hear them clearly -- and the tone of Lord Cayman's voice was not that of a man ready to give up the battle.
Dared I hope?
Potila turned to him, her eyes narrowed. "You aren't willing to sacrifice this half-ling for your own release?" she said.
"I wouldn't be willing, even if he wasn't my son."
Her eyes widened. Her hand came up. So did Lord Cayman's.
"Mark might have taken you on if he'd had more training," Lord Cayman said with a glance my way and a little bow of his head. "He has powers. He is a Sanctioned Protector -- but he is not a warrior. That leaves it to me, doesn't it?"
"Battle me to free him and we all die," Potila snarled. "He stays. You cannot defeat me because you cannot win."
The idea that we were all going to die bothered me. Part of that was being a Protector, I realized. The fear of killing the others seemed to outweigh the fear for my own life. I wanted to protest, but Lord Cayman turned my way and gave an unexpected smile.
He reached out with his hand and I lifted mine. Odd. He'd had trouble moving in the light, but I didn't now that I'd stopped panicking. Maybe this was because I wasn't fully fae, just like being able to get into the building. It gave me hope, though I didn't know what Lord Cayman planed to do.
I supposed I would just have to trust him.
Potila's smile grew as she brought up both her hands, power sparkling around her fingers. She laughed as her hands moved --
And that was when Edmond bit her on the ankle.
To Be Continued. . . .