Invasion? I watch the swinging lantern as the other four talk in their pairings. The Van Helsings immediately pop into my mind. It couldn’t be, could it? It wasn’t that long ago Ash left Peace Island. I check our link. The fire is banked, it’s not smoldering. The link is still broken. Its jaggedness rips at my heart; I let out an involuntary sob as I clutch my necklace.
A hand touches my knee and I open my eyes to see Martha looking at me.
“I’m sure it will be fine just as Charles said.”
I nod, but I can’t help thinking it won’t. If Ash’s parents have found me, anyone I’m with is likely to become a target. As I go to open the canvas flap to ask Charles to let me out, the cart comes to a sudden halt. I am thrown backward into Zack.
“What the Hell was that!” Zack pushes me off him before stomping to the front.
As his hand touches the canvas an unearthly scream fills the air. Zack hesitates, allowing me to regain my original seat.
“F*** it,” Zack rips open the canvas, full of anger.
I am in the perfect position to watch the color drain from his face. He turns grabs his bag and high tails it out of the caravan with out a word. Cautiously I move to see what he saw. The Ox is gone. Our caravan is tilted. It’s lodged in a ditch and propped against a tree. Then I look at the driver’s board. It is covered in blood.
I carefully step onto the board. Oh God, if the Van Helsings are after me now, what do I do? I look around, scanning as far as I possibly can for any sign of them. A gasp draws my eyes back to the caravan.
“Wha, what happened?” David asks, arm around Martha who’s buried her head in his shoulder.
“I don’t know.”
I look again at the blood. Oh god this can’t be happening. I clutch my pendant. Is this really real? I blink. It’s not. The pendant shows me that the blood is fake. The Ox and our Camp Supervisor have not been killed. But why? What is going on? Neither of question is one the pendant can answer.
I step back inside, relieved it’s not the Van Helsings. Even still, we are on our own to get home. I sit and close my eyes. Martha is quietly weeping. I sense Zack’s buddy, now abandoned, inching closer to us. Somehow we have to get out of the woods.
“What are we going to do?” Zack’s friend whispers.
I blink my eyes open and see everyone looking at me; even Martha. She turns her head from David’s shoulder to gaze at me. I don’t want to meet their eyes. They are asking me to lead them. My thoughts swirl in my head.
I must pass this test to save Ash. But I do not know if this is part of the test or if there really is something a foot. I know nature would easily lead me out of this forest. But is that what we are expected to do? Do I go alone or stay with these people who are looking to me to lead them?
“Morgan?” it is Martha’s voice.
I force myself to gaze into each of their eyes. They deserve to pass this test more than I. They have all been working much harder and much longer to do so. But the thought of leading them terrifies me. Why do they choose me? What if I lead them wrong?
Breathe. Be strong.
I am Morgan of Ollerond. I stand. “First, let’s gather supplies.”