(sorry it's so long!)
“Who are you?” she said warily. The figure laughed, but it was a friendly laugh.
“It’s me, Delorfinde!” they told her. Spook laughed too. Delorfinde was an old friend of hers, with whom she had collaborated many times, but this wasn’t really the moment to run into her.
“What are you doing here?” Spook asked her, trying to edge around the figure, with its brown hair and glowing eyes, and the curiously turned out feet.
“Just walking. I wanted to look at the stars, but the fog’s made that impossible. What are you doing here?”
“Actually, I’m running away, to try and help a friend who has had a run in with the Celryn.” Spook decided on the spur of the moment that she would tell Delorfinde the truth. Her friend deserved it, after all.
Delorfinde gasped. “Really? I heard about her. I mean, I wasn’t supposed to, but I was eavesdropping. She’s part fairy, isn’t she?”
Spook nodded. “Yeah, but she only just found out. Poor her.”
“I didn’t realise you knew her!” Delorfinde said, sounding impressed. “Where did you meet?”
“Well, I’ve never actually met her, but we’re pen friends. We message each other,” Spook said awkwardly. “But I know she’s in trouble and I’ve got this feeling that if I don’t help her, I’ll regret it forever. I know that where I’m supposed to be is wherever she is – do you get me?”
“Not really, but that makes enough sense for now,” Delorfinde replied. “I’ve been feeling restless myself, as though I wasn’t really supposed to be here.”
Spook knew that feeling – she felt it all the time. Especially in Latin lessons.
“Do you want to come with me?” she asked her friend, and then bit her lip. This could be dangerous – she could die – what was she doing inviting a friend?
“Yes, please,” her friend said. “My Elders are away, so they won’t ever know.” They set off walking together.
“You’ll need some supplies,” warned Spook. “We’d better see if we can find an all-night shop.” Delorfinde shook her head.
“Don’t worry about it. I’ve got a bit of food – I always bring some when I go out at night, in case I get lost or decided to stay out.” She gestured towards the satchel hanging by her side. “I’ve got enough for three days, there. Bread, biscuits, energy bars, fruit, and water…”
“Sounds good,” said Spook, but she was wishing that she had thought of bringing energy bars. Without them, she’d soon not have enough energy to Shift, not once she had left Protagonize.
They hurried along together, the chilly air penetrating their coats as though they were thin summer clothes. Spook’s teeth were chattering, and she Shifted to the form of a large, furry dog. With a moment’s hesitation, Delorfinde did the same.
Much warmer now, and much quieter, their progress was quick, and they reached the Port in a matter of minutes.
“There’s no one there!” exclaimed Delorfinde, after Shifting to her normal form, a teenage human with turned-out feet. Spook had once asked about these, to be told they had originated from when Delorfinde had done a lot of dancing, as a child. Which, Spook reflected, made perfect sense.
“There is – they just turn the lights out at night to save power.” Spook had done her research, and she was confident as she led her way into the dark Port.
Sure enough, a young Protagonist was on the gate.
“What can I do for you, at this time?” they said.
“Morning/Evening, Kitty,” said Delorfinde, recognising her older cousin, KitKat.
“Spook?” Kitty replied. “What are you doing here?”
“I can’t explain,” she said hurriedly. “How much would it cost to get to Earth? This is important – a matter of life or death.”
“I’ll pay for you, you won’t have enough. But promise me you’re not just running away from home!”
“I’m on a rescue mission, Kitty. Now let me past!” she exclaimed. Kitty stood aside and allowed the two girls to go through.
“Next flight’s not for another hour, though. You should get some rest, down in the terminal,” she told them. They were already halfway down the frozen escalator, clattering down as though they were about to miss their flight.
Kitty sighed, and put a few pieces of gold into a tray to pay for their tickets. It had been a surprise, running into her cousin, but Spook was like that. No matter how far you went, she always turned up.
Meanwhile in the terminal, Spook and Delorfinde were too charge up with adrenalin to sleep. They were glancing around, checking that Elorithryn and Moonwalker hadn’t caught up with them.
“You sleep, I’ll watch,” said Delorfinde graciously, and Spook smiled.
“Thanks, Del,” she said. Within moments, her eyes were shut and her breathing had slowed.
Half an hour later Delorfinde woke her and they swapped. She tried to catch thirty minutes’ nap but her mind was too busy and would not settle.
And then, finally, the flight came. They opened the door with one press of a button, and clambered onboard. As they chose their seats, Spook realised that she was now going to Earth for the first time.
Was this really such a good idea?
But Anna was in danger – Spook was sure of it. She couldn’t leave her friend. If she fell, she would fall defending the one person who had a chance defeating the Celryn. More than anything, she was determined not to fall at home, a coward.
The Protagonists would aid the Telcontar in this fight, no matter what it cost.