James led Emma to the edge of the city. There an old growth forest began. Ancient trees sheltered the ground so well little grew beneath them aside from a few species of shade loving plants like ferns.
The misty rain that continued to fall evoked a rich, loamy smell that comforted Emma. She watched James search for several seconds before finding a trail that led into the darkness of the trees.
“How much farther is it?” Emma whispered as if afraid of disturbing the stillness.
“Tis not much farther. Their sentries should be stopping us momentarily.”
“What do you mean, sentries?”
“As I said at the pub. This clan is very secretive. They fear much of the modern world. Sentries are posted to keep people from straying into their territory accidentally and to be certain visitors have no hostile intentions.”
“What’ll they do about me? I presume they know about you.”
“I pray they have enough faith in me to allow you safe passage.”
Emma stopped, “You pray? You pray!! Look, mister, I don’t know what kind of game you’re playing but I don’t find it funny at all.”
“I am not playing a game, Emma, this is serious.”
Emma never learned what James was going to say next. She woke up sometime later in a cave. James sat talking with another man at the mouth. She lay very still, trying to hear what they were arguing about before they knew she was awake.
Before she had a chance to hear what they were saying, the two men turned to face her. Glowing golden eyes chased her into the darkness as she squeezed her eyes shut pretending she was still out cold.
“Please do not pretend to be unconscious, Emma. Kris has already informed me you are awake,” James’s voice came from near her head startling her into opening her eyes once more.
“Give me one reason why I shouldn’t kick your ass right now,” Emma grumbled as she stood up.
“Perhaps because you do not know the way back to Dusseldorf from here? Would that be sufficient?”
“I could figure it out.”
“You’d never make it past my sentries,” Kris spoke up in a distinctly American accent, “Ant to even try them you’d have to get past me.”
“And who are you?”
“Emma, may I present Kris. He leads this pack. Kris, this is Emma. I spoke to you of her approximately one month ago.”
“What James is trying to say, Emma, is that I’m the guy that can give you some answers.”
“How do you know what I want to know? Wait, let me guess. James told you.”
“No. He just told me you wanted to talk to me and that I might be interested in meeting you.”
“Then how do you know what I’m looking for?”
“You want information about your younger sister.”
Emma sat back down hard. Her whole body trembled as she struggled to breathe. She’d been so careful about the information she gave. She didn’t want anyone to know it was her younger sister she looked for.
And this stranger knew.