Ferbish yanked Brenden by the arm and pushed him toward the gate.
After the sun set, the air became clearer to me and Brenden’s skin glowed that strange pale color. Off went both Grigor and Ferbish’s shrouds.
“Been wanting to do that all day,” Ferbish snarled. “Now, fairy, I gots me gargoyle powers and will rip ye from limb to limb if ye try any tricks wit these friends of yers.”
Brenden winced. “These aren’t my friends. I don’t know anyone here. I only know of a path.”
The huge man waved at us and called out, “Come along then, all of you. I must be shutting the gate soon. It’s the witching hour.”
The man leered at me. “Seems this one got ahead of everyone and came without her shroud on. Peculiar.”
I didn’t like his tone. But before I could say anything to him, another man came alongside him.
“Best we removed ours, don’t ye fink?” his friend asked, licking his lips.
The man smiled and said, “Oh yes, where are me manners?”
He whipped off his shroud, revealing dark reddish skin, long black hair and muscles that rivaled the gargoyles.
“Ogres!” Ferbish hollered.
All at once, nasty monsters surrounded us.
One cried, “They look tasty, don’t they?”
“I gots the human girl. Ratskin outdid himself, he did.”
Holly cried out, “Let’s get out of here!”
Instantly, Pigeon shot her hands up then shrieked unintelligible words.
A green wave of smoke enveloped the ogres closest to us like a wicked snake, sending them crashing to the ground.
Pigeon took off her shroud, turning into a raven and flew above us.
Growling low with anger, Ferbish ordered, “Grigor, get Holly and Francisco. I’ll take the traitor and Athena!”
One of the ogres Pigeon missed, lunged toward me as Ferbish scooped me up, flapping his wings in the air.
Sweat erupting on my face, I was losing my grip on the gargoyle as the ogre yanked on my leg. Noticing, Ferbish kicked her in the head as she howled, falling to the ground.
Heart beating, we made our escape into the darkness.
Looking over at Brenden’s sad face, he shook his head and mouthed, “I’m sorry. I didn’t know.”
I glared, spitting his lies back at him. Glancing down as we rushed higher over the landscape, I saw endless dark rocks and a smattering of rivers rushing beneath me .
At that moment, my mom and dad’s face flashed in my mind, and a homesick pang gnawed at the pit of my stomach like never before.
I thought about Zelda. I hoped she was okay. Not lonely and scared in a strange place. Shaking, the blood rushed out of my head. I felt trapped. Helpless. Would I ever see my home again?
I longed for the tiny, dusty house, my old bedroom that Zelda had ruined. I wanted my old life back. I wanted to see Adam Slack—the boy I once had a crush on.
I even wanted to go back to my wheelchair.
I didn’t want to be this mixed monster. I didn’t want to fix the world. I didn’t want to become the Wishcaster.
I just wanted to go home.
After we soared over the darkness for a while, the air grew steadily colder and strangely brighter until snow flurries tingled on my face. I wiped them off.
Ferbish gave a signal to Grigor to land in a clearing surrounded by tall mountains covered in snow. I shivered. Although my tunic was plenty warm enough for me, there was an eerie quality here unlike even at Gilly’s Trap.
It was as if the beauty was hiding something sinister.
Glancing at Brenden, I worried for him even though I was so mad he’d betray us. I had no idea why I’d feel bad for him. He was evil. He deserved whatever the gargoyles were going to do.
Ferbish retied Brenden’s hands and put them behind his back. He also bound his feet. Pointing at him, he warned, “And don’t try any of yer tricks. I’ve got my eye on you.”
“Now see here, gargoyle,” Brenden sputtered. “I had no idea those ogres lived there. It was Ratskin. He’s your traitor. Not me!”
Grigor ordered, “Hush, traitor, or we’ll do worse. We like ye friend’s plan to leave ye to the Balor bats, we does.”
“Balor bats are too good for the likes of him.” Ferbish spat on the ground. “I say we do him in right now. Get it over wif.”
Brenden struggled, trying to pull at the ropes. “Stupid gargoyles, you don’t even know where you are. If we don’t move out of here quickly, you’ll all be killed.”
“Says you.” Ferbish pointed at him. “I ain’t listening to another word out of yer lying mouth.”
“I’m serious,” Brenden screeched. “Look around. Haven’t you ever heard of the Elivagar mountains?”
Grigor’s eyes glowed ominously. “Elivagar? Home of the Droor Elves?”
Grigor hit Ferbish. “If he’s right, we best be off.”
Ferbish waved his thick hand. “We’re miles from there, traitor. Don’t ye fink I know me ways around? We’re near Hemlock Hills. Gargoyle country. It always snows fis time of year.” The gargoyles didn’t seem to be affected by the cold just like I wasn’t. But my friends were shivering. We needed to make a fire.
I was about to suggest this when Brenden jerked his head from side to side. “Untie me now, gargoyle! I tell you the truth. You must have flown the wrong way. I know this field. If you go just 30 farthings back, you’ll find an old ruins. We could stay there for the night.”
Now I’d had enough. “Why should we listen to you, Brenden?” I glared at him. “You led us into a trap!”
“I didn’t! That was the dwarf,” Brenden pleaded. “Unbind me and I’ll tell you who I am and then you’ll believe me.”
“Don’t listen to him, Miss,” Ferbish warned. “He’ll say anyfing to save his skin.”
I crossed my arms. “Tell us now. Then we’ll let you go.”
Francisco came up behind me, whispering, “Don’t make deals with him, Athena. He’s a liar.”
Holly nodded. “I don’t trust him either, Athena.”
But my friends didn’t know I’d seen a different Brenden in the mist. I’d be able to ask him questions that would be hard to think up lies. “I saw you!” I cried. “I know you’re not a fairy. I saw your dark skin and silver hair and magenta eyes. I read your curse!”
Ferbish growled, “He’s one of ‘em then, Miss. He’s a Droor elf!”
Grigor flapped up in the air, mumbling and clawing at his throat. “Oh, I don’t likes the sound of this, Ferbish. Lets be off and leave him wif his kind.”
“And give him over to his friends for trying to kill us?” Ferbish asked, flying beside him.
“Better to be off than die a slow deaf in one of them dungeons.” Grigor cringed. “Ye knows Droor elves are nasty fings. They’ll hunt us down for killing him or even for tying him up.”
Ferbish nodded and said, “Aiy that. He comes wif us then. We’ll fink about what to do wif him once we’re safe.”
“Yes,” Brenden cried. “Now you’re making sense, gargoyle.”
“No!” I yelled.
The gargoyle’s eyes locked onto me.
“He stays there until he explains himself. I want to know who he is, why he has a curse, and how he became a Wishcaster trainer in the Middle Realm.”
I still am not caught up from the holidays so next chapter will be
Monday, January 14th.
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