I yelled as I saw Maggie pulled towards the woods. Edmond reacted before any of the others could, though. He let out a yowl of anger and flew straight at the huge creature to attack it. His claws caught at the face, but the were-creature let go of Maggie with one huge hand and simply batted Edmond aside.
I gave another cry of dismay; the cat hit a tree and slid down before I could do anything to help him. He was a few yards from Maggie and other weres were closing in on him. I wasn't sure he was moving at all.
Maggie yelled in rage and fought harder. Lord Snow leapt to help Edmond but I couldn't watch since we had a vicious battle of our own. I hurried to help Maggie with Lord Cayman at my side. More of the were-creatures charged out of the woods.
Lord Cayman pulled a sword out of the air and attacked with steady swings that battered the creature holding Maggie until it let go finally and retreated, bleeding so fiercely that I didn't think it would survive. Others had moved in around us now, though, and if the soldiers hadn't finally decided what side they were on, I'm not sure we would have survived.
I didn't really like having the weapons fired so close beside me, but I was glad to see the creatures retreat again. I was especially happy when the Captain, who barely nodded at us and still looked uncertain, ordered his men to grab Maggie and carry her out.
Davis had helped Edmond and now helped Maggie. Edmond still looked dazed and he only gave me a distracted nod when I picked him up.
We had survived so much already, but suddenly it felt as though coming home was the worst thing so far. I felt a wave of frustration as I looked around. This world should not have these kinds of problems, and from what I could see on the soldiers' faces, they agreed. It also meant that they didn't trust me or my companions much. I thought about it and I had to admit that not so long ago, when I didn't even know what I really was, I would have had the same reaction. That made me curb my growing anger at their reactions to us. I just worried about how we were all going to survive.
They had us in their midst now, though, and the soldiers were aiming and firing at the creatures in the woods, not anywhere near us. The captain ordered half of his soldiers to fall in behind us once we reached the bridge and to hold back the creatures. No one complained and I had the feeling that they knew they were mostly safe here now. Besides, just as we crossed, another group of soldier arrived. The Captain spoke quietly to one, and from the way Cayman looked the man's way, I thought we might still be in for trouble with them, but I didn't care. I could see Maggie mostly on her feet now, thanks to Davis. Edmond seemed to be resting and quiet, but he was alive.
I hadn't even realized I had a couple badly bleeding wounds of my own. Too much adrenaline, but I started to feel lightheaded for a moment and handed Edmond to Lord Cayman before I fell down.
"Hey," Edmond mumbled. "Oh."
Davis had noticed and moved to me, his magic feeling a little weak and I almost waved him off -- but just then something else took all our attention.
Lightning flashed across the sky -- long, loud and slow. Behind it came a hot wind that seemed to howl through the woods. I looked back, as did we all --
Darman and Potillia had arrived. They stood at the far edge of the woods, and the were-creatures dashed to them and fell in beside them, more like an army than wild things now. I heard curses all around us, and I think Lord Cayman was ready to turn back and take on his brother -- but Darman, Portillia and the others retreated into the shadows.
"Cowards!" Lord Cayman shouted. That took me by surprise because he'd never been someone to push a fight. He put Edmond down, but I thought that was only for the cat's protection. Edmond did move more quickly toward Lord Snow.
Then he stopped and looked at me, shaking his head. I had the feeling he was having a vision and didn't want to say it aloud in front of the humans. That had to be bad.
"They're too weak to take us on," Lord Cayman said. "Unfortunately, we are too weak to go after them."
The soldiers looked relieved. I felt the same way. I didn't want to let Darman and Potilla to get away, but I could tell that we were not in any shape to go against them and their were-creatures, especially since I still couldn't be certain about the soldiers. I would like to think we had proven ourselves, but I saw too many wary and distrustful glances my way.
We came out of the wooded area without losing anyone, though. I looked back at the town with both relief and regret. I worried about friends and family whom I had abandoned -- but I hadn't realized the problem, then. I knew that I couldn't blame myself for what had happened here -- but I was a Protector, and I felt as though I had failed people I should have helped.
"Hey," one of the soldiers said, coming to me. "You're Mark, aren't you?"
"Yes." No use in denying it.
"Thought so." He leaned closer and his voice lowered. "Your family moved away to somewhere safer."
I looked at him, relieved to hear those words. I even almost smiled --
Right until someone grabbed my arms and handcuffed me.
To Be Continued....