Lord Cayman and Ellin held back the enemy while Maggie and Davis rushed the last of the others through.
"Edmond -- run for the door," I ordered.
I could have argued with the cat, of course. Instead, we all retreated, pressing in close to the people going through the door. Potilia had realized we would soon escape, and I knew she wasn't going to give up and let us go. We had destroyed her world.
Wings or not, this wasn't a safe place for a little cat. As I leaned down to scoop Edmond up, I noticed something odd past Potilia. For a moment, I hoped it was some help -- but no. I caught a brief glimpse of the figure and somehow managed not to curse.
Instead, I grabbed Edmond and moved closer to Lord Cayman, Maggie, and Davis. "Darman is behind her," I said softly.
I saw snarls on all the faces. They'd heard me, and I didn't think our enemy -- enemies -- could tell that we knew the secret. But how could we use it? I held back. I didn't have much magic yet, and I hadn't practiced as much as I should have -- but then, I'd hardly had any time to do something so mundane. I looked at Maggie, and she nodded to me. I didn't know what that meant. Did she understand I was holding back in hopes of taking Darman by surprise? Was she trying to tell me they had everything in hand?
The air rumbled around us, warm and cold in turns. The tingle of electricity grew stronger, and I worried that it would affect our ability to act. I glanced back the portal where the last were going to safety. We could go -- if we could get away.
Potilia attacked. Fire spread everywhere. I dropped down, throwing myself over Edmond while the magic roared over us. I didn't think it was going to end.
"Mark is down!" Maggie cried out in dismay.
I started to move to let her know --
And stopped. Was the attack lessening over me? If I stayed still, would they think that I -- the weakest of the group, the newest to magic -- would be out of the picture.
"Stay still, Edmond," I whispered as softly as I could. "We're going to trick them into stop looking at us."
Three things worked in our favor. First was that Potilia wanted Lord Cayman, and as far as she could tell, I had very little control of my magic, if I even had any left to use. She had mistaken my drop for a fall -- I could feel that, in an odd way, when she glanced at me. She would never have considered that I'd moved to protect the cat, I suppose. I'm sure she wouldn't have tried to protect anyone or anything.
She started past me. Lightning pulsed through me, but it wasn't very strong -- I tingled, but I didn't move.
Darman came closer --
I feared he was going to figure out the ruse, being more used to humans and all, so I moved as quickly as I could. I reached out and grabbed his leg, throwing him off balance. Magic that had been in his hands flew wild, some of it hitting Potilia, which was good -- and bad. She screamed and spun, found me --
And Edmond bit her ankle.
I thought he would die, but Lord Snow leapt in and grabbed him by the neck like a kitten while Potilia yelled and Lord Cayman and Maggie attacked. Davis got through and grabbed me, but I was already trying to retreat to the others.
"Get ready," he whispered.
I wished I had a clue what we were going to do.
Davis kept hold of my arm, though. I looked around and found Edmond sitting on Lord Snow's shoulder, both backing towards the portal. I knew they wouldn't leave us.
Maggie grabbed my other arm. "That was brave!"
"We're all crazy," she said and leaned close. "Get ready." She must have seen the look on my face and realized I had no idea of what was going on. Her eyes widened a little. "Oh!"
And then it happened. The magic that had been shoving against Potilia away reversed and caught hold of all of us. We flew backwards into the portal. Unfortunately, Potilia's magic followed, and the moment it reached the portal, I could feel the magic passageway shredding around us. I heard an odd echo of Lord Cayman's voice as he shouted out magic, but I could hear Potilia and Darman doing the same. I could even see the others who had escaped ahead of us and not far enough away. They would be caught up in the battle. We had to do something. I looked at Lord Cayman. He nodded, lifted his head, and with a shout of power -- we left that path to Elsewhere.
I could feel the hint of panic from the others. I tried to pull us all together, to keep us close -- at least not alone! But I wanted, mostly for us to be safe.
I think my power as a Protector kicked in.
We fell out of the portal and into a line of tall brush and weeds. Birds cried out in surprise and took to the air. I didn't get a look at them. I was too busy making certain everyone was here. Unfortunately, I could feel Potilia and Darman not far away, too. They were following us.
"Where are we?" I whispered.
Maggie stood and walked to the edge of the trees. She gasped and put a hand on a tree. I rushed to find out what was wrong --
Cars driving on the road below. Someone jogging by with their dog. A few blocks away, I could see the high school where I'd been right before this madness started.
"We're home," Maggie whispered.
Lightning flashed in the sky behind us. Trouble was still on the way.
(The End of Escaping Somewhere Else)