We arrived at the Undine encampment and waited for news. Lyra and Shadrach hadn't yet arrived and Near had vanished, they knew we were heading here so we started to protect the fortress. The stone walls could only protect us so much. I placed a web on all of us here, it protected us all from mortal harm, we wouldn't die but could end up in some pain if we didn't protect ourselves.
Desideria stood at the gates of the fort and we watched in awe as bony figures rose from the earth, their flesh rotted and clothes barely more than tatters. She placed them in guard around us with orders not to harm those whose image she projected into their minds. At least we were safe from them.
Felixia lit a beacon of light above us, a beacon of pure light and what could only be described as 'goodness' a repellent to those after us, and casting us virtually invisible to them.
In the surrounding forests Trinnean and I set about creating traps, we made walls of trees and vines, shattered splintery pikes, huge ditches with brambles to entangle our foes. Trinnean also set a few 'bomb logs' as he put it, tangles of vine, bark and thorn with latent explosive force, proximity triggered.
Athelstan called upon the birds, they encircled us, as a watch and to provide some attack to intruders by air. He also made the air stagnant so our scent was unlikely to travel.
The plan was for when Lyra, Shaddy and Near returned for moats filled with vicious aquatic creatures and whirls and rapids. Shadrach would be set to fill the ditches with fiery molten rock, and keep them burning. Near, our tiny crusader would be asked to do our most important task, we were hoping he'd be able to create portals or even a wall of time disparity, so if they wandered into it they would be transported to the time picked.
I hope they're all okay.
"Any sign yet Ath?" The sweeping figure above me grew larger until he landed next to me on my watchtower.
"Nothing yet, I'll tell you if I see anything, and if needs be grab them over our, erm, preparations."
"Good idea, it's cold out so come in for some food if you want."
"And what if they get back when I'm eating?"
"Grab the food and fly with it if it'll make you happier."
"Won't make me happier, it'd make it more difficult but I suppose it'd be a good compromise."
"Atta boy, oh, by the way." I place my hand on his shoulders. "Your muscles were tired.
"Thanks Cal." He hugs me; oh hell can he hug tight!
"Okay, before I asphyxiate, let go." He lessens his grip.
"Sorry Cal, I'm just finding this terrible, I could have held Lyra up there too you know, I'm just lazy."
"No you're not, and we most probably could have fit them on our horses if we wanted a cramped journey."
"Thanks, doesn't help though."
Suddenly Near pops on top of us with a splintery crunch
"NO! My wings!"
"Sorry. Look, don't ask me how I got here, it was kinda hard to even figure out your position. What?"
Our staring eyes must have let us down.
"Wh-what happened to you, mister old scarred man?"
"Yeah - want me to do some healing?"
"Thanks, but I'm pretty much okay, I'll explain in a second."
I heal Near up a little and I take him downstairs while Athelstan returns to his diligent watch.
"Hey, who's this?" Desideria lifts her head from her bowl of stew.
"Hi Des! Where's the rest of the guys?"
"Woah, sit and explain first! Trin, Felixia, get out of the kitchen now! Near is here!"
Trinnean and Felixia run out of the kitchen and halt suddenly.
"What happened to you man?" Trin sizes up the figure of Near.
"Sit down and I'll explain."
"O...kay, but start soon of I'll blow this table up in your face."
"Calm it Trin." Desideria shoots a stern look and him.
"Okay, here it is, believe me or not. I found Lyra, she was trapped when I was caught. I don't know what happened to her or Shaddy. I managed to escape and and tried to figure out where you were but got stuck in a time eddy. I've just managed to get out - Do you know what it's like being stuck in time flux for 4 years?"
"Man, that's terrible, so you don't know what any guess what happened to the other two?"
"You mean they haven't got back?"
"No." Trinnean has elected himself a leader and we haven't been complaining as he really can get us organized.
"So how long have you been here?"
"Only a few days."
"Say, are you hungry? We have some great stew." Felixia toddles off to the kitchen.
"Yeah," Near calls after her. "But I'm super hungry."
Felixia come back in with a large bowl with a spoon standing in it.
"Oh before I forget, here." I run my hands in the air in the direction of Near placing a webbing over him.
"What was that?"
"I put a protect-ie sort of thing on you, it means you can't be mortally wounded."
We hear a commotion from behind us and the figure of Athelstan bursts into the room.
"It's..." he pants, "It's... Shad, rach, he's, not... too far. To the... west. Bout... 3... 3... 3 minutes away."