I couldn't say I minded that Lt. Marsh and the others didn't trust me. I could understand the trouble from their side, being so new to the world of magic. I could, I found, still understand how the people around me felt. This was not natural, and the sounds of growls and odd words shouted in the thick woods sent a chill through me as much as it did them.
Marsh turned out to be talkative, which surprised me. I was grateful that he filled me in on what had been happening lately, but from what I could tell, there had been nothing but chaos for the last ten days or so. They'd lost a lot of men to the weres, unfortunately -- but they'd killed a good number of the creatures as well.
"They just never end," Marsh said and a couple others nodded. "We can't tie them down into a single battle. We can't get past this chaos, and we can't win --"
"Oh, we will win," I said. I even believed those words. Lt. Marsh shook his head, though, unwilling to go along with what must look like my unfounded enthusiasm, especially since I had only just arrived. I wasn't certain I could make him believe, either. "Darman doesn't begin to understand that humans, despite their lack of magic, are not helpless."
"You aren't human," Lt. Marsh said and his eyes narrowed this time.
I wondered if I looked less human these days. I realized that I felt less human and maybe that was enough. Not bad to be different, especially since it meant I was accepting the other part of me and the magic that came with it.
"I was born and raised in Crossing. I didn't know my father was fae until lately." I wondered if I should mention my relationship to Darman and that my father was a fae Lord. No, maybe not. Those were complications that had nothing to do with the trouble at hand. "I don't understand a lot of what it means to be half fae, to be honest. I'm only just starting to learn, and that means I don't have a lot of magic to help. But I do know there are others out there who are working with us."
Lt. Marsh didn't look convinced. We moved on quickly, coming around the edge of the hill. A stream flowed close by, and I realized this would be the stream I had crossed when I headed to Elsewhere the first time and the place where I had tossed the gun.
I had been a different person then.
What would have happened if I hadn't gone through the gate, which had to be close by. I looked around and realized that I would have been here anyway, fighting with the humans and trying to defeat Darman. However, I would have had any knowledge of my powers. I wouldn't have been a Sanctioned Protector.
If I could find the path to the gate, I could go through and take the rest of these people with me. I wondered if that would help (supposing we had the time for the journey). I wondered if they saw the world of magic if they would understand that not all magic is evil.
Of course, my first steps into Elsewhere had been filled with Fenris Wolves, unhappy talking trees -- oh yeah, maybe not the best way to introduce them to the wonderful world of magic. So I hurried with the others until we were well behind the hill and into an area filled with bushes. A couple rabbits ran away, but three rushed to me. I knelt and brushed my hand over their heads.
"Go from here. It is not safe. Go now."
They didn't want to. Even animals in this reality understood that I was a Sanctioned Protector, and they knew dangerous things wandered the woods right now. I did my best to send them in a direction away from the worst of the trouble and stood again. Lt. Marsh looked as though he were caught between surprise and amusement.
"It is what I do -- protect things," I explained. I heard distant sounds, the shouts of voices. Were those my friends? I couldn't tell. Alone still, then. "It is a power I gained in Elsewhere, or at least learned how to control. All I ask is that you don't immediately shoot at things that are not weres."
"You don't care if we kill those monsters?" one of the men asked.
"I regret that you need to, but I know it's necessary. They were human once, you know. But Darman used his magic and warped them, and now they're too far gone. They can't go back. I'm sorry."
The others stared at him, frowning. However, he realized that the truth was important right now and for later. Things had changed in his world. They would not go back. They had to learn at least the basics of what to expect. So much they needed to know and learning was going to be all the more difficult because they did not trust the fae.
I wished Edmond would come back. I wanted to be with those who knew what was going on better and who had better control of magic than I did. The idea that I might draw the problem straight to this group bothered me again. I might be able to get away --
That would not be wise. I knew it. They would take it as a sign that I really wasn't trying to help them. If they didn't shoot me as I tried to run, they'd still never trust me -- or the others -- again. No. I had to sit it out.
The sounds grew louder. Things were coming our way. Lt. Marsh signaled his men and they spread out in a circle around us, their weapons ready. I held my breath --
But the trouble didn't come from the woods. The ground beneath me began to tremble....
To Be Continued....