The Yeti howled even after Edmond let go of his ear.
The ice beneath our feet cracked in a pretty spider-web design.
We were all going to fall and die.
Maggie tried to create more magic, but she was weak. Five hid in my pocket. Edmond held to Yeti fur as the creature started jumping up and down.
I panicked — and I did the one thing I do well.
"Stop!" I shouted.
Everything stopped — the Yeti in mid-leap and everyone else in mid-move. I found that the ice beneath my feet had started to give way with a crack almost six inches wide already. I could see nothing but a drop beneath, and no sign of the bottom lost in the shadows.
I carefully moved away and nudged Maggie to a better position. My head pounded as I slid Lord Snow forward and went to grab Edmond. By then, I'd reached the end of my control; I barely caught hold of Edmond, and a few strands of Yeti hair, when everything moved.
And I mean everything.
The Yeti hit the ground and gave a startled cry. Lord Snow leapt at him -- misjudged because I had moved him -- and Maggie yelped and leapt forward, too.
Edmond was yelling. "Stop that noise, you stupid -- oh."
The Yeti scrambled backward when the floor fell away a few feet away from us. He glanced over my shoulder to the new hole and took another quick step back. The icy path beneath me was still webbed with cracks.
"I suggest we all take this disagreement at least a few yards elsewhere," Lord Snow suggested. If a snow leopard could tiptoe forward, that's precisely what he did. Maggie moved carefully up beside Lord Snow.
The Yeti gave a frantic nod. "Yes, that appears to be quite wise, sir."
The Yeti sounded like an old-fashioned British gentleman. I started to say something and changed my mind. As things went in Elsewhere, this wasn't so strange at all. At least we had a chance of dealing with him.
Edmond glared at the Yeti, though, and I could tell there was more trouble brewing unless I headed it off.
"You did a good job, Edmond," I said quietly and hoped the Yeti didn't take much notice. "I couldn't get to everyone in time."
Edmond had been growling softly, but that sound slowly stopped. "Thanks. Though I probably shouldn't have bit his ear."
"Not a whole lot of choices," I replied. I held Edmond against my chest, and I realized he had started to tremble. Five began to climb out of my pocket, and I quickly handed her over to Maggie while I held Edmond a little tighter.
"We'll be to my den soon," Yeti said as we headed deeper into the ice caverns. We left the cracks behind. "We'll have tea like proper--" he looked around at me and my companions, "-- beings." He gave another quick look around at everyone and shook his head rather than saying something more.
"Why did you attack us?" Maggie asked.
Yeti gave a little sigh as though he had hoped not to hear that question. His long strides slowed, and he didn't even complain when Lord Snow went a little bit ahead.
"That was my mistake, and I do apologize. I am so used to things attacking me that I struck out without even considering what an odd group you are. I only felt the magic and -- well, you know how it is."
Yes, unfortunately, that was something I did understand. I hoped Edmond recovered soon. I held him closer and wanted to reassure him, but that might be embarrassing for him. It's better not to upset a cat.
We passed by a couple openings to the world outside. It had gone dark out there and the bitterly cold. The wind howled in around the openings, and Yeti hurried forward past the second and then stopped when we were in a somewhat safer, if not really warmer, area of the passages.
"I say, that is a furious storm, what?" He shook his head with a touch of worry. "How is it such an extraordinary group happened to drop into my area?"
"By accident," I reassured him. "None of us were prepared for it."
"Yes, I can see that you are not dressed for the weather."
I could see a golden glow up ahead and hoped the others hurried a bit. Holding Edmond was keeping me partly warm, at least. He was not trembling so much, either. The fact that he'd said nothing at all lately worried me, though.
"Edmond?" I dared. "Looks like we're almost there."
Edmond lifted his head from my arm -- and then he hissed, clawed his way up to my shoulder, and launched himself into the air behind us.
I knew we had trouble even before I turned. At first, all I saw was Edmond, his wings unfurled as he flapped once, and the ice and snow --
And something moved. It blended too well with the wall so that all I saw as a ripple of movement.
"We have trouble!" I shouted. "Look out, Edmond! There are others!"
"Dada!" Five shouted and leapt into the air to follow him.
"Oh no," Lord Snow said and chased after her.
Yeti came to stand beside me. I hadn't noticed that he was so tall. I felt like a child standing in his shadow.
"Ice spiders!" Lord Snow yelled and sounded worried.
"Many of them," Yeti agreed. He'd lifted his hands. He had, I noted, dangerous claws. I didn't know why he hadn't used them on Edmond, but I was grateful. "Get back! All of you! You -- the creature with the teeth -- back!"
Edmond kept going, his own claws swiping at something on the wall. I heard a clink and fall, but even then, I couldn't see the creature.
"Dada!" Five called out in fear.
Edmond looked back, saw Five following him, and then he panicked.