We didn't rush across the bridge as fast as we had down into this tunnel. I was glad because I didn't think the bridge would hold up to that kind of treatment. I walked in the lead. They apparently thought I knew something. Well, I guess I did. I knew that this was a dangerous place.
The little creatures that had set me up for the sacrifice were stunned to silence when I came back through. One started to stand up to speak, but I looked at him.
"I don't want to hear it this time," I said. "We are going through, and we are not sacrificing anything or anyone to get to the other side."
"You survived," the creature said. Awed. "Go in peace."
I didn't trust the cooperation which was just as well. We were about to reach the mist creatures, and I didn't see any way we could reason with them.
"Claws," Edmond said. "And teeth if you don't have anything better. Just let Lord Snow and I at them first."
"I did manage to take down a few when we came through here," Lord Snow said with a bit of a smirk. "They are only constructs, you know. A bit of mist with a purpose, which appears to be nothing more than throwing visitors off the bridge."
The bridge trembled again, this time, a bit more viciously. The little guys gave startled cries. I hoped they stayed safe. They were one of the few friendly creatures I had seen.
The mist things moved onto the path as we neared. Edmond leapt out into the attack first, but Lord Snow came right behind him and kept the little cat safe. The mist creatures wouldn't have any trouble lifting Edmond and tossing him off the bridge, but they'd have a bit more trouble lifting a 120-pound snow leopard. Granted, they hadn't had much trouble lifting me, but I didn't have four sets of claws at work, either.
And those claws were at work. The fae guards with us moved forward with daggers in hand, but Edmond and Lord Snow cleared the way.
"I suspect they will reform," Lord Cayman said as we passed over the spot. I had not been beyond this little area, but at least Lord Snow would warn us of any other trouble.
I did take a moment to look over the side and down into the jungle, though, moving along until I found an opening. A dinosaur grazed there, looking enormous and placid.
The long-necked head came up and twisted.
"Hey Mark! Edmond!" he yelled. You haven't lived until you've seen a dinosaur jump for joy. "Take care! Watch out for the pterodactyls. They're in a bad mood!"
"Thanks," I shouted back.
"Seems you made some friends along the way," Lord Cayman said. He looked down at the dinosaur as we walked past. I thought he looked impressed.
"A few," I admitted. "I think that's because I just didn't know what I was doing."
"Or that you knew what you wanted -- friends, and not enemies. That can help in some cases, you know. Fae protect far too much of what they feel sometimes, and this can create problems we expect, but might have avoided."
That was something interesting to consider. Did it work with me, too? I needed to figure these things out and fast because nothing was getting safer. I gave a last wave back to Job and headed on into unknown territory, though it looked no different than the area we had been walking. I still felt an urge to panic, though. At least I trusted Lord Snow, who had come this way and I tried very hard not to think he was starting to look nervous, too. Maybe I should have asked what sort of problems the others had run into after we parted company?
Why ruin the surprise?
We passed through more mist, but this seemed more fog than alive. Below us, the land changed from jungle to forest, and I heard wolves howl. Edmond decided he wanted to be carried again. I thought longingly about big, heavy Job. Or Bog Bob. But the wolves stayed below us and after a while, we were out over grasslands.
Here we rested. This was another new experience for me. I got to sit down, eat, and go to sleep while others kept watch, and people who I was sure could take care of problems. Edmond curled up with me. We slept for at least four hours without any worries at all.
But I awoke to the bridge viciously shaking, and yells of worry coming from my companions and from the land below us. Edmond grabbed hold of my arm, claws and all. I didn't blame him. I grabbed hold of Lord Cayman.
"Run!" Lord Cayman shouted.
I glanced back to see a whirlwind forming on the bridge, and in the middle of it, I could clearly see Potilia. Lightning played at her fingertips.
For a moment I thought we had been fools to rest, but now I realised we had regained strength -- and she was wasting hers.
We ran. We ran fast. I heard a sound of thunder behind us and felt her rage, but it was too far away now to do us any harm. Moving this fast, I dared not look back, but looking ahead was not much better. I could see cracks in the bridge, and a turn that seemed to be falling apart. Mist and dust rose up in the area, and I couldn't see what might be waiting on the other side, but since the rest of my companions kept running, so did I. Lord Snow leapt a wide opening and scrambled over the other side. I leapt as well and started to fall backwards when I missed my footing. Edmond cried out but didn't let go as we fell.
To Be Continued. . . .