Alastair woke up in a cold sweat. His stomach felt as though he had eaten something too sweet, resulting in his body rejecting the sweet substance through nausea. He’d only felt this sick twice before, and both times were the product of eating too much Halloween candy. Of course, that was when he was younger with less self control. He couldn’t think of a reason why he should be up at this hour cradling his stomach as though he had the flu.
The boy searched his surroundings. There was Glue Pot. He lay with his knees buckled under him, his arms crossed, and his head tilted to one side. Digitalis was curled up at his side with a blanket over her shoulders. Tipper had the only couch available. The color of his face was back to normal, and the two Kitsunes slept comfortably enough together. Alastair never thought that seeing those four would become normal, but just watching them sleep well made him feel safe.
He then counted the children. Lila was leaning on his shoulder. He cringed a little when he saw the puddle of drool soaking his tunic. That was fine, as long as she was safe. Alastair checked his left side. Zane was sleeping on Ginger’s lap. The poor boy didn’t have a contacts case, and so he had to keep his contacts in or else they would dry out. What would happen when Zane would eventually have to take them out to keep from getting on infection? Alastair hoped that all five of them would be home before they could ever find out.
Alastair checked along the perimeter. Once. Twice. Three more times. His stomach squeezed again, and he now knew why he felt as though his heart had plummeted into his feet.
Where was Gabbie?
He moved Lila gently down onto a blanket and stood up. Where could Gabbie have gone? Did she need to use the restroom? Did the elves have a restroom system like the Kitsunes? That wasn’t the point. Alastair had to find Gabbie and quick. He exited the elven living on and dashed out the nearest door that was ajar. Fortunately, that very door led out into a lit hallway. As soon as he burst out onto the polished floors, he heard a deafening commotion. A few elves flew passed the boy, barely acknowledging his presence. He assumed the best plan of action was to follow them because he knew, he just knew that Gabbie was behind all of this.
“You, Alastair,” called out a familiar voice. Alastair checked behind his shoulder and saw Adriei stomping up beside him. “I’ve been sent to find Sannier’s son. Last we saw him, he was with one of yours.”
“Gabbie,” Alastair gasped. He grabbed a fistful of his tunic, not knowing what to do with his nervous hands. “I think he’s with Gabbie. I can’t find her either. They may be what everyone is worried about.”
“Then come with me.” Adriei scooped the boy up with one swift motion, settling him on their shoulder. “Think I’m a bit faster, eh?”
Alastair could feel his palms grows sweaty as his uneasy stomach churned faster and faster. A few odd creatures galloped by, but Alastair didn’t have the time to care about what they could have been. He only thought of Gabbie. Gabbie and her kindness. Gabbie and her open smile and imaginative stories. She couldn’t be hurt. There was no way she would be in danger.
Adriei jerked right, stopping right before a steep fall outside. One of the creatures with a rider drifted down on spindly hooves, causing the sense of vertigo. Before the boy and the Royal Guard was a lake. In the lake was a monstrosity so gruesome that Alastair nearly passed out from fight. What kept him tethered to his consciousness were the two tiny but distinct figures running back to Rockestel; Gabbie and Silverskin.
“Warriors, ready your magic!” Shouted a fierce female voice from a rock outcropping above him. Alastair craned his head. There was an elven woman dressed in a suit of thrones and iron. She had no right arm, but that only made her more intimidating. There was a scar along the right jawline of her glimmering brown face, and her eyes blazed dark silver with hardened determination. “Construct a wall to keep the Lake God at bay. Use whatever access you may have from the mountain, not the beach!” Her voice did not need to be amplified. Her speech carried on its own to each and every ear of the soldiers.
“Sub-queen! What if it breaches the wall?” Called out a non magic warrior.
“I expect it will.” The elf woman lifted her head imperiously. “That is why I need you to evacuate as many of our citizens as you can. Take them to the emergency base beneath the mountain. Now!”
“Holy Matron,” the warrior moaned. She saluted to the sub-queen and disappeared back into the confines of the mountain. Alastair heard a magical thunder crackling through the hallways, alerting the families that Rockestel Heights was in danger.
“What about Gabbie and Silverskin?” Alastair asked Adriei.
“I dunno, kid. But you heard the sub-queen. We need to get to the emergency base.”
Alastair jumped off of Adriei’s shoulder and backed away.
“I’m not leaving without Gabbie!”
“Gonna have to, kid. She and Silverskin ain’t gonna make it. The magic folk are gonna spread a wall right in front of them.”
“How can they? Gabbie and Silverskin are just kids!”
“Yeah, but for the sub-queen, what’s a few kids opposed to thousands and thousands of other people? It’s a painful choice, but she has to make it. So do you.”
“No!” Alastair danced away from Adriei’s hand and looked up to the fierce elf woman. “PLEASE! Wait for them a little longer! PLEASE!”
The sub-queen glanced down. Her silver eyes widened and then returned to normal. Her expression was pained, and she refused to give Alastair any more attention.
“Set the wall, NOW!” She shouted.