We made an odd procession as we left the camp at midnight, lines and groups heading out the gate and into the desert. None of the guards were up in the watch towers. Both nons and the others were mingling now, so that last worry finally disappeared.
Several people were carrying out pieces of what would be boxcars when we got to a rail line. Last of all came the image of an engine. I watched it go by in disbelief, trying to imagine how it would be real enough to fool others. I'd never known that kind of magic in my short association with Elsewhere.
I'd never known anyone like Tom, either. He radiated magic now that he was in his true form. Far more than Lord Cayman or Darman had done. I wondered if this was even his true form, though the others accepted it.
Honestly, I didn't care. I was just glad that we were on our way to help others. I didn't like the thought of Lord Cayman out there on his own. I really disliked the idea of humanity moving against us because they were too blind to see the difference between Cayman and Darman. I knew that was going to make things difficult.
But we were moving. Lord Snow darted forward and nearly knocked me down in his enthusiasm to see me. Edmond flew overhead and landed -- badly -- nearby. He muttered a curse and folded his wings, apparently deciding to walk for a while.
The night felt cold but I don't think any of us cared. I looked back at the camp and wondered how long some of the prisoners had been there. I wondered what would happen when humans realized we were gone. They'd come looking by morning, I feared.
I said so to Maggie when she came to walk with the cats and me.
"The humans there are all under sleep spells," she said with a glance back. "Those will hold until at least noon and maybe longer. As soon as everyone is out of the camp, I'm going to bring up a wind that will hid or tracks and also keep enough sand over us that no one flying overhead will notice."
"Good. Maybe they'll just think we disappeared and won't really search."
"That's our hope," Bailey said. "We just need to make certain we're not somewhere easy to spot."
"Not going to be easy for a group like this," I said. There were several hundred of us, and at least half were nons. Not many were nons like Edmond and Lord Snow, who were hard enough to keep hidden, but at least partly fit into this world. Maggie, with her metal wings, was another difficult one -- though a cloak worked there. But some of the others -- no, they couldn't be hidden easily.
"We have quite some distance to go to reach a set of railroad tracks," Maggie said with a shake of her head. "We better hope we get there before light."
"What about other trains?" I asked. I was starting to see a lot of problems here.
"We'll be on the lookout for them. If we have to, we'll give a few of them problems to keep them back and hope that those tricks don't add up and someone will come looking for us."
The distance we had to travel was daunting. Someone would figure out the direction we were going and there would be people searching for us. If word got out --
"There is going to be panic," I said and Maggie looked at me, startled. "Think about word of our escape getting out. Think about the people we know -- especially the ones like your parents."
"They'd be out there inciting riots if they weren't in prison," she said with a snarl.
"I didn't mean to --"
"No, you're right. They're just the sort of people we need to be really careful about," she replied. The anger had slipped away from her again. I was glad she she thinking about it.
"I don't know how many of these people are from our reality," I said. I shook my head, worried about the possibilities. "We need to remind everyone that we're going to run into trouble long before we get back to the gate."
"You're right," she said. Then she suddenly put a hand over my shoulder. "I was worried when the others said you hadn't arrived. At least Davis and I were together, but it was still awful."
"I suppose they had their reasons. Do you know anything about Tom?"
"I know what he is. That's enough to worry about."
I didn't ask more. If she had anything to tell me, she would. I expected the same from Lord Snow, Edmond, and Davis. We were a team. We were heading back from trouble, but at least we had allies this time.
Actually, more than allies I suddenly realized. We were moving an army. There had been several hundred at camp and all of them with magic. I didn't know anything about their powers, but Tom would. I knew he would be in charge and I was fine with that -- as long as he realized I likely knew more about both the area and the enemy than he did.
I didn't say anything. I just hoped this would not become a problem. I and my people were the strangers here and I noticed how they were staying by me. I tried not to think there was a reason for it.
We were heading into battle. I didn't want to find myself on the wrong side of Tom and of Darman as well. This might be trickier than I had considered. Of course, first we had to walk across the desert, pretend to be a train, and travel over halfway across the continent.
To Be Continued....