“When I said pick your team-“
“Consider it a lesson learned Goodstone.” Silver looked to the almost too perfect forest path. He adjusted his swords, the wazikashi and katana across his leather jacket. “We have to get to the edge of the twilight, and like you said… They don’t like cold steel.”
“Remind me again, why I’m here?” Billy chimed in, checking the arrows in the quiver again. His hands quickly checked the longbow. “Seriously, the standard Magii testing? I scored negative, even lower than you Silver.”
“You’re family to the Hartlan’s.” Tom spoke over his shoulder.
“And the Kennedy’s, but you don’t see me getting invited to dinner. ” Billy nodded ahead. “Something’s ahead.”
“I see that. Maybe if you didn’t do that article and put three more levels of red tape paperwork into my work process…” Goodstone waited for a moment, then adjusted his grip along the length of iron quarterstaff. “Check the rear.”
“If I didn’t do that article, I wouldn’t be reporting the truth.” Billy squinted a little. “Could be the wind, or a Pookah.”
Silver spun to the side, blade somehow already in his grip pointed to the path they just walked on. “Nothing but too dense forest, that isn’t the way we came.”
“It is, remember, this is Fae. Even the maps change.” Goodstone sighed a little, then rested the staff on the top of his boot.
“That some good detecting.” Billy smirked, then in an instant he had one arrow at the ready, nocked and ready to fly pointed towards the path ahead. “Fortunately my hunting skills are better. SHOW YOURSELVES!”
The sounds slid around them, too many voices slippery, from tree branches above, from a rock on the path below. The sounds dizzying. “You dare bring those… things. Into our home, to cause the Rot? This is an insult to-“
“Before you even begin, let it be known that we are only passing through your realm to the Dreamtime. The weapons are for our own protection as is to yours, the blood of the Hartlan walks with us to guide to the one called Rory Hartlan. He dreams and cannot wake.” Silver recited precisely, then looked up towards the brim of his porkpie hat, trying to remember if he forgot anything.
“That one’s blood, it contains the taint.” The voices floated in from the forest edge, seeming to concentrate around Goodstone.
“Yeah, blame that on my heritage, it means no insult to your kind. We’re only travelling through, we will defend ourselves if harmed or influenced.” Goodstone held the heavy quarterstaff above the ground, the air sharpened at the move.
Billy nodded, “Good one.”
“The archer is of the blood, but is not touched by the ancestor. We shall take him as tribute.”
“No you won’t, because if you look further, you will see that I know words. And you don’t want every human traipsing around in these places, if I spread word of the many entrances to this place.” Billy returned the arrow to the quiver. “Billboards, paper flyers, big neon signs flashing ‘OPEN FOR TOURISM’. Hungry humans looking for new food sources, scientists ready to open up whatever they can get their hands on, and even worse. Tourists.”
The forest seem to withdraw a moment.
“The toll must be paid. These are the ways of this place.”
“And we will earn it, not through trickery, permanent or temporary sacrifice.” Silver spoke looking to the forest.
“And the monsters that the Rory has fought do remain in his own dreaming. Near that place where he lies in the Dreamtime, is weak, to this place. The easier the path, the quicker we can stop anything that could come through.” Goodstone pointed out, “And the longer we bicker here, the better chance that something not of the realms of Earth or Fae could enter.”
“Know that this place will take. If not through this journey, but the next. You have been warned, Warrior, Hunter and Smithy. And you will return to these lands, the toll must be paid.” The whispering voices pulled away from the forest edge, and the light seemed to return all around them.
“Hunter Bill?” Tom smirked.
“Shut up. We’re just lucky that those were the friendly Fae.” Goodstone took out a notepad and wrote down some details. “Which way?”
“If things keep going the way they should, we keep going forward, then we’re on our way to the edges of Fae. I have a feeling that they want Rory awake just as bad as we do. Or at least have him on guard. His own nightmares are as large a threat as our own bomber.”