I stared in shock wondering what I should do. People were shouting, and someone fired from the tower -- I saw the bullet kick up dirt a few feet from me, a startling sight. I'd been shot once and I didn't want to go through that again. I wanted to throw myself on the ground and roll up in a ball. Let the others run over me. Just stop shooting --
Someone grabbed my arm and yanked me away from the area and towards one of the buildings. I almost went down but he dragged me on as I got my feet moving and in a moment he all but threw men into a room filled with bunks. I barely had time to note a half dozen others. Hands and feet started pounding on the door, while shouts and growls filled the air. I backed up and wished that everyone would be calm. This wasn't right. I didn't know what set them off, but there was no question they were headed for me.
Maybe my wish worked. Thought I still heard shouts and a couple more shots, I thought that the others were backing away and that things were calming. I backed away from the door, almost stepped on someone's foot and muttered an apology, all the time trying not to be ill or to show how frightened I was now.
The man who had dragged me inside cautiously opened the door and peered out. He gave a nod and closed it again before he turned to me. I saw now that he had a long face, gray hair and dark eyes. He frowned, but then shook his head.
"Sit down. You're far too pale. I have to admit that I didn't expect what happened out there. Who are you?"
Someone guided me into a plain metal chair. I sat down, aware that despite the metal roof, it was not hot in here. Magic. I hadn't considered how that would help, but why were they even here, then?
"Boy?" the man said, drawing a chair over and sitting in front of me.
"I'm Mark," I said. I found it difficult to say even those words, though sitting down helped.
"Okay, I should ask a better question, shouldn't I?" the man said with a sight hint of a smile. "What are you? And tell me the truth because I will know if you lie."
He would. I could sense a little bit of power within him, and that came as a true relief. I knew it didn't mean he was a good guy -- I had Darman to remind me that magic had it's dark side, after all. However, there was something Mark sensed that seemed he could trust this one. He hoped it was true because he wasn't going to survive otherwise.
"I'm half fae," I said, which drew a little sound of amazement from the others. I glanced their way and found three men and three women, various ages, colors, sizes. My attention went back to the other man. He nodded, so I decided to go all the way. "My father is Lord Cayman and I am a Sanctioned Protector."
The man sat back, his eyes gone a bit wide this time. "I had not expected --" He stopped and looked me mover, his fingers twitching slightly and a little touch of magic in the air. If he had I wouldn't notice, he must have realized from my smile that he was wrong. He nodded again.
"Yes, you are telling the truth and I didn't have the power to even compel you to do so." He thought for a moment, and then nodded. "I'm Tom. I sort of the leader of these people, at least at the moment. I'll let the others introduce themselves later. I just want you to realize a few things: Everyone here has a little magic, but mostly just enough to get them in trouble and sent here. A Protector is probably more powerful than anything else in the camp. The nons ran to you for that reason."
"Non-humans. I fear they would have swarmed you for protection."
"Do they need it?" I asked.
He nodded, denying nothing. "Yes, but rarely from us, though they may not realize it. The people who run the camp and the guards are less inclined to be friendly to them, so they mistrust more humans for that reason. If you tried to do anything to help them, it would likely get you killed. You can't trust all the guards out there."
"But I can trust some of them?"
"Yes. We'll slowly introduce you to them, but we have to be careful, you understand. This is a dangerous place to be, Mark."
I wanted to ask if they had planned on a way to get out, but that seemed impolite, to leap in like that -- and besides, it was not really a wise thing for a newcomer to ask. Did they really understand what I was? A question of that type might just set them against me.
"There were others with me when I was taken," I said. "They all had magic. Are they here?"
"Not yet," Tom replied. He must have seen the worry edging into panic on my face. "This has happened before, so don't worry yet. Some times others arrive later." He stopped and shook his head. "Sometimes they don't arrive at all."
"Is there another camp?"
"We hope so."
The noises had stopped outside. I took a breath to try and calm myself. "What now?"
"Stay out of trouble while others make their decisions about you."
Stay out of trouble? That didn't sound likely.
To Be Continued....