“Go on. Take your time, but hurry up.” Tipper smirked.
Silverskin waved and went after his parents who had already disappeared into the warren.
“How am I going to practice with this?” Lila wondered out loud once Silverskin left. She brandished her stiletto.
“You can borrow me if you’d like,” Perceval offered. “You need to be quick with those, and I’m very fast.”
“I don’t want to hurt you!” Lila said.
“You won’t. I’ll use a minor fire shield.”
“Oh, then I want your help, too!” Ginger exclaimed.
“Me, too!” Said Zane.
“All in favor of using Perceval as target practice, say aye!” Tipper laughed.
“Hey, why is everyone turning on me? Is this what happens when someone is trying to be nice?” Perceval said with fake hurt.
“No good deed goes unpunished,” Gabbie said. She waggled a finger like her mother always did when saying the exact same words.
Gabbie’s playfulness evaporated immediately. That was Silverskin, and by the sounds of it, he was in trouble. The group sobered and fumbled to get closer to the warren’s entrance. They all almost tumbled over themselves when Silverskin shot out like a bullet. He was a mess. His skin was as pale as marble. His entire body was coated with sweat. He looked like had seen a poltergeist.
“Silverskin, what’s wrong?” Gabbie asked. She held out her arms and the elf boy took them.
“They are,” Silverskin repeated as if Gabbie would know.
“You’re parents? Maybe they’re back with the sub-queen?”
“No, you don’t understand!” Silverskin’s voice rose higher than anyone thought it could. “Everybody is gone! Mom. Dad. Adriei, Agile, my neighbors, the kids, the grandparents…even sub-queen Faeley!” Silverskin bit his lip. “All that’s left are the deerne.”
Digitalis and Glue Pot exchanged looks.
“It got Rockestel,” Digitalis whispered.
“But what? What got Rockestel?!” Silverskin cried.
“I don’t know. That’s what we were trying to find out,” Digitalis replied. “My hometown, Pottsville, got wiped out.”
“The Seven Isles got hit, too,” Glue Pot said.
“We thought that our areas down south were where the disappearances started, but Agile and Adriei said that the north was affected as well. We’re right smack in the middle of the map. If that’s the case, there’s no localized sport where this all started.” For the first time since knowing her, the kids heard a primal fear in Digitalis’s voice.
“So that’s why you were going to see Queen Inana?” Silverskin sniffed. “But even she doesn’t know what’s going on. That’s why Adriei and Agile were sent here.”
“She still has to know what’s happening,” Glue Pot interjected. “More information can be vital to her.”
Tipper stayed silent. He watched Gabbie, Ginger, Alastair, Lila, and Zane with a growing suspicion. His tail flicked from side to side as he thought.
“Maybe I shouldn’t take you kids to see Queen Inana,” he said.
Everyone gaped at Tipper.
“Listen, there’s no doubt that humans have unnatural magical abilities here.” He crossed his arms and leaned against one of the green pine tree’s trunk. “What if she reacts to you the same way the elves did? What if she thinks that the disappearances are your fault?”