The next five minutes were agonizing as I hovered over the Sheriff, who was still lying on the floor. He babbled out what happened when he came around for a couple of minutes, but passed back out again. When the ambulance got there and I was pushed out-of-the-way, pacing the hallway was my next best option. I checked my phone every five minutes while waiting for Ben to come through the door. He came in just as they were taking the Sheriff away.
“I got here as fast as I could, what happened?” he asked as he came running through the door.
I launched myself into his arms and burst into tears. I was terrified not only for The Twins, but what would happen to The Sheriff if they were killed. Ben held me close, rubbing my back while he hummed. My chest was heaving by the time I calmed down enough to tell him what was wrong.
“Eric went home on his shift,” I said, breathing deeply and wiping away my tears. “He found the door wide open and the Twins were gone.”
“That’s not all that was there,” said Captain Miller as he came in to the Hall. “There were scorch marks everywhere, along with broken furniture, smashed doors and blood.”
I groaned and dropped my head to Ben’s chest.
“Please tell me it wasn’t the Twins..” I whispered. New tears were already falling.
“We can’t be sure,” he replied.
Ben’s grip on my back tightened. “Do you have anything, yet?”
Captain Miller shook his head.
“I sent Jones over with the crime scene unit, but there’s some kind of nasty mojo over the whole place. It’s taking down techs as fast as they go in to do their job,” he said. “Someone who’s immune to that shit needs to go in, but we don’t have anyone like that.”
“What about the priestess?” I asked.
“Went up to Grizzly Peak to help with a spot of trouble up there. She won’t be back until tomorrow and she might be too tired to help.”
I sighed and looked up at Ben.
“Sabine and I could go,” I said carefully.
Ben looked down at me, a little surprised I said anything to him first about going. I could tell he was thinking it over though.
“I don’t want to risk you or the baby,” he said to me, just as carefully. We both knew that something in our relationship had just changed. “but if you promise to listen to both myself and Sabine, back out when I feel there’s too much pressure on you, I can be okay with that.”
I nodded and looked over at the Captain. “We’ll follow you over with the truck and trailer.”
“Trailer?” he asked, looking a little bewildered. Then Sabine came around the corner and his jaw dropped. “Well I’ll be. I never thought I’d see one in person.”
“This is Sabine. We’re linked.”
That had the Sheriff looking at me sharply.
“You’ll need a key to the great library and you’ll need it fast if you’re linked. You need to read the Chronicles about unicorns,” he said.
There was a firm tone to his voice that didn’t make me put my back up, but rather made me incredibly wary about the link between myself and Sabine. I nodded at him.
“Okay, but first can we go find the Twins?” I asked.
He nodded to me and Ben left to get the truck and trailer together while I explained things to Sabine. She thought it was a fine idea to go over there and see if we could cut through the miasma surrounding the place.
“I would step lightly when we go, Marlowe. Anyone who does that kind of magic is not to be trusted. There could be any number of things waiting.”
“I know, but it’s herd and home.”
Sabine nodded. “I will make sure nothing happened to the baby. You may tell your mate.”
I thanked her while I got dressed in my outdoor gear, pulling on my boots. By the time Ben got back, I was dressed and Sabine was waiting with me at the door. While we helped her into the trailer, I told Ben what she said.
“That makes me feel better, actually.”
“Well that’s good.”
“I still don’t like this, but it’s the Twins. I know why you’d want to go.”
“Dragon day is tomorrow. You’ll need to be at home. We need to do this tonight,” I said firmly.
Ben nodded. “You promise to listen to me? Pull back when I feel you’re getting too deep?”
“I promise,” I said and hugged him. “I want them home. I want the family whole.”
“I know. We’ll find them if we can,” Ben said and opened my door to help me inside the truck.
He got in after making sure I was inside and we headed towards the Sheriff’s house. There was no talking between us, nothing more needed to be said until we got there. Pulling up to the house, I could see the scorch marks on the door frame as the light faded with the sunset.
My heart started beating faster and I reached over to grab Ben’s hand, calming down. He looked at me and nodded. I tried to smile, but I’m sure it was more like a grimace. My heart was starting to fill with icy dread that was as cold as the zero degree temperatures outside the car.
Sabine until now had been silent. As soon as we stopped she spoke,
“She was here.”
I jumped and gave a little yelp. Ben’s forehead wrinkled with worry.
“The woman who killed your herd?”
I didn’t know what to say. My eyes filled with tears as her sadness joined my fear and filled me. At that point, I was worried that I’d never feel warm again if something happened to the Twins and we could not bring them home. I got out of the truck without waiting for Ben to help. I know it annoyed him, but I needed to do it myself to prove I wasn’t helpless.
As Ben and I unloaded Sabine, there was quite a crowed.
“Now, we do work to ruin her day,” Sabine said.
I smiled. “What do I do?”
Sabine explained that we were going to try to purify the area together by just walking through the scene. She said that between the two of us, there would be more than enough magic to cleanse the area.
“But, how?” I asked.
“The magic wants to help. It’s just waiting for direction. So we tell it what to do,” she said as we walked to the house together. “Do not run. Stand your ground. If you run, it might kill you out of spite.”
I nodded, looking back at Ben. He smiled, but I knew it was fake. I knew he was worried and would probably pace the side-walk. I wiggled the walkie-talkie at him that he handed me before we started up to the house and then blew him a kiss.
I turned to Sabine and nodded. She nodded back and led the way into the house. I was glad there was only one step up to The Sheriff’s house, we got inside pretty easily. Once inside, I felt the crush of magic as it swarmed us. Black mixing with light, my head swam.
“Don’t faint, Marlowe. It is strong, but we are stronger,” I heard Sabine say through the gray that clouded my vision.
“I’m not going to faint,” I said as I squeezed my eyes shut.
I could feel tears leaking out as it pressed down and I pushed back. I was so angry that it was trying to make me faint that pushed back harder than I intended and felt it snap like the draw string of a bow that’s been loosed. The blow back hit me in the chest and face hard. I could feel my nose bleeding. I could feel the hate from the black side, drowning
“You push too hard, Marlowe. We should leave.”
“I thought you said not to run?”
I heard Sabine sigh and I nearly smiled.
“They’re hitting you hard because She left the magic for you. We have to leave.”
One more hit from the magic had me rethinking my will to stay. My lip was split, I could feel it swell and pull when I moved my mouth to breathe. I nodded at her.
“Lets go,” I said. I could feel the lip pull hard as I mouthed the words.
We stepped outside the house and the pressure stopped. I almost wept with relief. Ben rushed up and checked me over before saying anything. Then he kissed me.
“Don’t do that again,” he said quietly. “You’re not supposed to go where I can’t follow, remember? We made a deal.”
“It only took her twice to get me to leave. I left. As promised,” I said as I dropped my head to his chest. “Lets go get me checked out at the hospital and I’ll tell you what happened.”
Ben hugged me close. “You’ve gotta stop being so hard-headed. It’s going to get you killed and We’ve got a family.”
“That’s why I left when I did,” I murmured.
“I’ll leave off, but we need to have a talk later.”
“Later,” I agreed. “Doctor first.”
“You did well, Marlowe. Even if you are a little stubborn,” Sabine said. I could hear the humor that covered the grimness of what just happened.
“Some of that crap is going to follow us, isn’t it?”
“Oh, Most definitely.”
“I hear the, what’s that word you humans use? Sarcasm? I hear it in your voice.”
“That’s because I meant for it to be there,” I replied.
Sabine snorted, but said nothing. She trotted over to the trailer and waited to be helped inside.
Ben led me to the truck and helped me inside after we put Sabine in the trailer.
“I want ice cream. A big tub of it,” I said when Ben got into the car.
He turned and stared at me.
“What? It’s for the baby and my lip.”
Shaking his head, he started the car.
“You might be the death of me.”
“Buddy, I’m your salvation. You just haven’t figured it out yet.”
He surprised me by laughing.
“I’m not entirely sure of that.”
The truth is, I think we’re going to be the death of each other if this keeps up.