Her eyes drifted further up the boulders. Doubt crept through her mind, like a cold fog on a winter’s day.
That…resembles an oversized shoulder. But if that’s so, then…
Her eyes stopped abruptly, wide with panic, on two amber orbs near the top of each boulder. She gasped, “Oh…oh…oh, my! Oh, no!”
“Welcome, I am Kimar.”
“Welcome, I am Ercen.”
Her mind had, indeed, made sense of the stone shapes, even though her heart desperately fought accepting the conclusion. Danielle was staring at two enormous gargoyles! She didn’t have any idea what to say, so she said nothing. Getting stiff from the cold, she shifted around on the floor, backing away a few feet, feeling frightened but very curious at the same time.
Then, Ercen, who Danielle took to be a girl, said, “Look, Kimar, the human child is cold.” She turned towards Danielle, then said, “Please, do not be afraid. We mean you no harm.”
Without saying anything, Kimar stood up. Danielle had not realized until that moment that both gargoyles had been on their knees. Kimar reached his hands over his head to the ancient stalactite nearest to him and held it very close to its tip. Danielle could see that he didn’t touch it. About a minute later, he stooped down to the floor and held his hands against the smooth area where Danielle was sitting. Without understanding what had just happened, Danielle was pleased to feel the floor warming under her. She looked up and noticed Kimar’s hands were glowing with a soft golden light. It quickly faded.
Not knowing what else to do, and feeling that it wouldn’t help to repeat the same questions again, Danielle struggled with what to do next. She didn’t know if these creatures were to be trusted. She didn’t know if she could trust herself! Was her mind playing tricks on her? Her head hurt. Her nerves were jangled.
Finally she just blurted out, “How did I get here? The last thing I remember was…well, I was just about finished collecting for my paper route. And there was one more house—it was strange, though. Like no one had been there for a few days, maybe even weeks because the grass and bushes looked dry…”
She talked quicker when she was nervous. Even so, she observed that Ercen and Kimar watched her intently, like they were waiting for…what?
“…and the house had these strange walls in front of it, and just behind the walls were these huge feathers littered around just in front of the—”
She stopped abruptly, unable to utter a sound. A huge feather, very much like the ones she had seen at the house she’d just been describing, fell from Kimar’s shoulder and fluttered onto her lap.
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