I was too weak to walk far. My mind was rolling with turmoil, too, because I wanted to see at least Davis.
I almost went to my knees, but I spotted a bench by some sort of scraggly bush, and a little out of the sun. I stumbled over to it and sat down, my head bowed. At least I had drank water earlier, so I wasn't bone dry. I could feel the heat already sucking moisture from me.
I could get out of this. I had gotten out of worse.
Where were the others?
I forced myself to look around, my eyes narrowed against the glare. I didn't see any other cages and I had a sudden fear that none of the others, not even Davis, had survived. The fear made me ill, so I lowered my head again and tried to shove that thought aside. There were other worries to take it's place. What were Darman and Potilia doing now that those of us who could have fought them had been taken away?
Which lead to another thought, one a little more comforting. Why hadn't I been attacked during the long trip? Both Darman and Potilia knew I had powers and that they could be dangerous for them if I ever got enough time to figure out what to do.
Maybe now was the time to start practicing to find out what I could do -- or maybe not. I glanced at the people with the rifles and suspected that a show of magic might be dangerous right now.
I wanted my friends here. I wanted them to show up so we could scheme our way out of this mess. I didn't feel up to the work on my own, but at the same time I knew --
A woman with short gray hair and a scowl crossed to the bench. She held a basket and drew out a metal cup and a jug of water. I sipped at her nod and said nothing. I had the feeling the panic in my voice would not help right now.
She handed me some bread and a piece of cheese. It looked like a feast since I couldn't remember the last time I had ate anything. It hadn't even been in this reality.
"Thank you," I said, even though I wanted to devour it.
She gave a slightly friendlier nod. "That's all you'll get today for food. More water in the barracks -- they don't short us on it."
That was something, at least.
Then she leaned forward. I thought I could feel a touch of magic in her, though not anything I'd remembered from anywhere else. She looked into my face and gave a nod. "Not all is it seems. Get strong. We re counting on you."
Then she turned and walked away before I could swallow the bite of cheese. I almost snarled in anger and followed, but my legs didn't want to hold me. She disappeared around the side of a building. No one else came around.
I ate the food and drank more water, and felt a little better for it. No one else came near me, but that was okay. I had time to relax, to stretch out sore muscles, and to to watch the few people I did see moving inside the camp. Some of them were not human, and those seemed to keep to themselves well off to the left, hardly even coming into view now and then. Not that I saw many humans, either. However, I had a feeling of segregation here and didn't like it. Some of my best friends were not human.
Were there fae here? I let my mind wander a little and tried to see if I could sense something that truly did not belong to this world. For a moment I thought -- but no. Lord Cayman was not here, I was certain of it. What about Davis? I had never been certain of his origins, though he clearly wasn't one of the fae. Maybe he was more like me?
If my friend were here, they would have come to me by now. I shivered, despite the heat, and hoped that didn't mean anything dire for them.
I couldn't just sit here. I stood and limped towards the buildings, moving to where I could see down the path between one building and the next. What I saw took me by surprise. There had to be at least a hundred of the barracks, each about one hundred feet long. Not pleasant looking places, with their flat, unpainted wooden walls, and worse yet the metal roofs. They would be hot during the day and cold at night.
Then I noted how tumbleweeds had piled up around quite a few of them. So they could not have all been occupied. I wasn't certain if that was good or bad. If there was a lot of us --
I looked to the towers and the rifles again.
Do not do anything rash. Do not do anything that will get others killed. I needed to think this through and find a way to not only help these people -- because I was a Protector and I had to do that part -- but also to find a way to get free.
When I walked past the next row of barracks, I saw an area filled with plants and people working there. Apparently they grew their own food here, or at least some of it. A few chickens pecked away at the ground. I thought I saw a couple children and that angered me where I'd been worried before. I don't know that anger helped, but it gave me a little more strength.
A moment later I heard a sort of yowl and looked over my shoulder, surprised to see movement among the non-humans. They'd gathered in a tight group, and they were looking at me.
And then they were running at me.
To Be Continued....