“YOU’VE WHAT?” Amy asked again.
“We’ve been waiting,” Conomorg repeated flatly.
Peter stared, slack jawed. While very pleased that Danielle was unharmed because of his unexpected houseguests, it was still an unnerving discovery.
“We’re sorry, Conomorg,” he blurted out. “And to you, Ita-Mudak,” he continued, bowing to his friend. “It’s just… just so…”
“Fantastic!” cried Danielle. “Wow! To think you guys were laying in our floor the whole time we’ve been living here. That’s just fantastic! Really!” Danielle began spinning around the flagstone floor, her arms outspread, a huge smile dancing across her face. Anja ran happily around her in mad circles.
“You see, Peter,” Ita-Mudak, the larger of the gargoyles replied, smiling at Danielle, “after the battle for the Temple of Kahrnahrgx, and after we saw you off, several of us returned there with squads of our soldiers. We needed to look for any surviving friends—as well as enemies—and dismantle the temple structure, buildings and prisons. We also had to collapse Kahrnahrgx’s tunnels and caverns. Great foolishness it would have been to allow him or his minions to return there. Yet, it was during the destruction of his temple facility that we found it.”
“And what was that, again?” Amy interrupted, her voice edged with frustration and tension.
“Evidence, Amy,” Conomorg interjected. “Unmistakable. We found, without any doubt, disturbing…compelling… gruesome evidence that Kahrnahrgx had successfully combined fundamentals of gargoylekind with humankind.”
Danielle abruptly stopped dancing. Anja, immediately sensing something had gone wrong, nestled against her leg.
“Remind me what that means, exactly?” Peter said, his face the color of chalk.
Ita-Mudak shifted on his enormous taloned feet and pointed to the area where Sedig-Tahr had vanished into dust. “It means that our enemy, through unspeakably vile and wicked devices, has created a gargoyle adaptation—an abomination—that can appear human because it is. At least, the creature shares in sufficient fundamentals of humankind that it is nearly untraceable by us. From that terrible discovery until this moment, we have guarded you and your family,” he said, looking at Danielle.
“In your world,” Conomorg added.
“This creature only became known to us when he stepped into your house,” Ita-Mudak continued. “But there was no question that one of these hybrids would come for you.”
“So, then,” Danielle choked, “you believe there’s more than one of these creatures?”
“Yes,” both gargoyles replied in unison.
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