Kellin caught up with Carolyn and I as we were partway back to the tent, her expression tight and grim. I stopped walking and looked at her, brows knitting.
“How many this time?”
“Four of the seven,” she said grimly, shaking her head. “Pretty much every other ward. It’s like someone’s trying to create deliberate gaps in our defenses.” She shivered, glancing at Carolyn, who frowned.
“Who would want to do that? I mean, I know I don’t really understand all of this yet, but that doesn’t make any sense. Those things out there—the stuff that you’ve got the wards to stop—they’re dangerous.”
“Of course they’re dangerous,” Kellin said, sighing as she stared toward the tent. “Maybe it’s time we finally told everyone. Just so folks stay the hell away from the wards and don’t dick around with them. I don’t know if it’s something doing it maliciously or doing it because they think it’s somehow satanic or what, but these wards keep getting messed up and if that keeps happening, it’s only a matter of time before something crosses them when it’s not chasing, but hunting.”
The idea of anything that I’d seen or read about hunting us in our camp made me uneasy, stomach twisting into knots like the shifting leylines. That had started to settle down a little in the past few days, but they’d by no means stopped rewriting themselves—simply stopped getting as unpleasantly tangled as they had in that first desperate week.
“Do you really think they’d do that?”
Thank all the powers that may or may not be that she asked the question so I didn’t have to. I shoved my hands into the pocket of my sweatshirt.
Kellin frowned, then nodded. “Yeah. I think they’re angry enough to come hunting us here. Why else would they have attacked Marin down in the ravine, or chased you and Drew and J.T. back here?” Her lips thinned. “And then there’s the radio.”
I stiffened. “What about the radio?”
She glanced at me and grimaced. “I don’t think it exploded—or popped, as everyone’s insisting—because of how Matt and Davon jerry-rigged the thing. It doesn’t feel right for that at all.” She took a deep breath and exhaled it slowly as she continued, her voice low as we drew closer to the tents. “There was something oily and wrong about all of it, something dark.”
Oh shit. That’s what I was so damn afraid of. That it wasn’t just an accident. “Are you saying something attacked my brother?”
“No,” Kellin said. “I’m saying that something attacked the radio and Matt getting hurt was a bonus.” She sighed a little and shook her head, glancing at Carolyn. “Did your…y’know…did they say anything about what happened?”
She shook her head slightly. “No. None of them were nearby. It’s safer during the daylight hours for them to be out and about, so not many of them were in camp at the time. The few that were just knew something bad had happened, but not what.” She paused for a moment, head half-tilted as if she was listening to something. “Something about a black cloud and being sleepy.”
What the hell does that mean? I wondered, frowning. “What do you think, Kel?”
“I think I’m not sure what to think,” she said, shaking her head slightly. “All I know is that someone’s screwing things up and that’s letting other things penetrate camp, which is something none of us want.”
“The fairies don’t feel any less safe here than before,” Carolyn said softly. “But that may be because we’re all here…and they really don’t have anywhere else to go.” She sighed and shook her head. “I don’t know. I’m still trying to figure out how this all works, y’know? They talk, I listen, but I mostly keep my mouth shut because I don’t know who’s going to freak out if I say something.”
Kellin shook her head slowly. “Someday you’re not going to have to worry about that, Care. At some point, it’s going to be undeniable.”
Is it? The thought bubbled up from somewhere in the deepest recesses of my subconscious, a tendril of doubt. I bit my lower lip, frowning and trying to shake it loose. Why did I suspect that Kellin was somehow wrong?
“You think so?” She asked.
Kellin nodded. “Yeah, I really do. There’s just too much that’s going on for people to stay unaware of it forever. It’s only a matter of time before they either experience things themselves or we have to tell them.” She shrugged. “I don’t know which one to lay better odds on yet.”
“Hope for the latter but expect the former,” I muttered with a slight shiver. My stomach settled and I took a deep breath. “I’ve got a bad feeling.”
They both looked at me. “Did you see something?” Kellin asked quietly.
I shook my head. “Nothing in the near future,” I murmured. Not yet, anyway. If something comes, it comes. If it doesn’t, it doesn’t. I shook my head. “And I’m not about to try to stimulate something, either. All that usually happens is false positives when I do that, like back when I had the original dream.”
“That was a long time ago.” Kellin’s voice was quiet. “Things are different now.”
I shook my head slowly. “I’m still not about to go looking for answers by trying to have Visions. We don’t know what would happen if I did that. Hell, I could end up in some kind of semi-permanent fugue state and be lucid less than a few hours a day. I don’t want that.”
“No one wants that,” Carolyn said, frowning. “But do you really think that could happen?”
“I don’t know,” I admitted. “But I really don’t want to find out.”
“All right,” Kellin said, shaking her head. “I won’t bring it up again.”
“Good.” I’m afraid that I don’t have enough control. Until I can figure out what I’m imagining versus what I’m really seeing, trying to have Visions isn’t going to do any of us a damned scrap of good anyway.
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