The tracks came to an abrupt end. Fern frowned and dropped to the ground to investigate, but there were only two conclusions she could have drawn from them, and neither seemed particularly likely.
"Well?" asked Cedric.
"Either they have vanished from the face of the earth, or a very strong gust of wind obliterated them. A gust of wind, it seems, that prefers the laws of geometry to those of nature. Look how linearly the trail ends."
"Or something could have flown off with them."
"I suppose that's possible, but not probable."
"There could be a dragon about. Or maybe Jh--maybe the demon can fly."
"Why would it have been walking behind them, then?"
"I don't know. It could have its reasons."
Fern remounted the horse. "Well, do you have any suggestions for finding them?"
"I can still smell it. Perhaps I can track the demon that way, and wherever they are, it probably is too."
"Be my guest."
Cedric sniffed the air like a bloodhound. "Keep going forward."
After ten or twelve minutes, Fern brought the horse to a halt. She had seen something strange ahead, and when Cedric inquired as to what the matter was, she shushed him and pointed before nudging the horse cautiously forward to get a better look.
There were two bodies suspended in mid-air, some ways above the ground, one small and slight, the other long and lanky. The smaller one was upside-down, spinning slowly, as if he had been hung by his ankle from an invisible rope. The other was on his back as if lying upon a solid platform. Neither showed any signs of consciousness.
Although Fern had already known who they were, she still felt a bit shocked when they rode close enough to make out their features. Seoc's eyes were open but void of personality, and de Winter's were shut tight, his face frozen in a grimace of pain. Both of them were horribly pale and seemed nearly lifeless.
"Are...are they alive?" Cedric asked, his voice trembling.
"What do we do, Fern?"
She turned and looked at him. It was the first time he had called her by name. She had been planning to answer that she did not know, but now she felt as if she ought to put more effort into her response. "I...I suppose we should try to get them down, for a start."
But Cedric was no longer paying attention. "Look," he whispered, pointing.