“You can’t set the ghouls on her! She can’t be your tool as a ghoul.”
“That is a keen observation, Dan, but it is irrelevant. The ghouls will not be sent to turn her. They will be coming to turn you. Hamish is only making sure that the girl does not interfere.”
Hamish gripped Alice’s arm with more force and jerked her towards him if she made any movement at all. Panic swarmed in Alice’s head. She fought to keep it under control. These madmen would not really let those monsters hurt Dan, would they? She pushed the panic away and concentrated on the situation at hand; concentrated on Dan.
“You wouldn’t have kidnapped Dan without reason.”
“The only way the ghouls can attack me is to send me to the pools of the Forest Spirit. Bringing the monsters here will only put everyone else in danger.”
“You sound like you want to go into danger, boy,” Hamish said.
“The boy has a good point. We want the girl and her brother to be safe but no one will be safe if the ghouls are here.” Hamish nodded in agreement.
“Are you making a bridge or do you need me to travel?”
“No need for any fuss,” Raven said with a wave of his hand. He muttered a few words and a bridge appeared, spinning in the air. “A bridge will be much faster.”
The vines holding Dan in place vanished so suddenly that he lost his balance and tumbled across the bridge’s threshold. The only way to go from there was foreword!
“Watch the image,” Raven commanded Alice.
Dan knew that he should be afraid right now – afraid of the ghouls, afraid for his family, afraid for Alice alone with those two madmen – but he was not afraid. He wanted to go to the pools. He wanted to warn the Forest Spirit and the Guildsmen. He could warn San and explain how to get to Raven’s world through different bridges.
Hamish had taken Dan through a maze of bridges but he made sure to pay attention. He knew how to get from here to there and he could draw a map for the others. He and Alice would not be on their own … they could win if enough people were on their side.
The Forest Spirit, his mother and Amy would have to be the first people he told. He knew that they would believe him and could influence the rest of the Guilds. Part of Dan want to go to each warrior he saw and tell them about the dangers Alice was in but he knew that focus was important.
Dan could not save the Forest or his friends by going all over the place. He had to focus on doing what he came here to do. After tell the people he needed to Dan could help the warriors fight the ghouls until a firm plan could be formed.
He ran through thick trees and swampy ground until he recognized Amy’s face. She was standing a few feet away from his mother and both women were fighting several ghouls and beating them.
“Amy! Mother!” Dan called out. “Alice is in danger!” He quickly launched into the story telling only the most important parts but it still seemed to take too long. He finished in a rush. “Where is the Forest Spirit? I must warn him!”
Amy’s eyes were still wide and it was obvious that questions plagued her but she pointed the way all the same. Dan nodded in thanks and sprinted in the pointed direction.
Dan could see the distinguished outline of the Forest Spirit. He ran harder and called to the Spirit. The giant being moved towards Dan as well, hearing the urgency in his voice.
Their movement did not go on being ignored. Ghouls moved towards them in the hundreds. Dan felt a surge of panic but he used the rush to motivate his legs to move faster. He had to warn the Forest Spirit and save Alice. He could live with being turned into a ghoul as long as he did that.
“Alice needs help,” was all Dan could get out before the ghouls closed in around him.
Dan fought to keep the ghouls at bay but he felt hope leave him as the ghouls closed in. He was seconds from loosing himself when a bright light surged through the trees. The ghouls around Dan turned to dust as the light touched them.
Dan knew that he should run but curiosity forced him to stay. Ghouls didn’t just leave on their own and light doesn’t appear from nothing. Dan looked this way and that to see what caused it.
The Great Forest Spirit stood less than a meter away. Light and the overwhelming feeling of hope seemed to pulsate around him. He had made the light.
Alice, Timothy, Raven and Hamish were all watching the scene unfold from the other dimension. Alice feared that her heart would burst out of her chest. Dan was putting himself into danger and there was nothing she could do about it. She had promised Dan that she would refuse to help Raven.
She could only hope and pray that he would not die or be turned into a ghoul himself. She was so focused on him that she did not even notice the Forest Spirit until blinding-white light shot through the air of both dimensions.
Alice rubbed her eyes, trying to get the floating dots to disappear when she felt a familiar hand squeeze her’s.
“Run, Alice! Follow me!” Her brother’s screaming voice ordered. Alice did as she was told and sprinted after him.
She tried to keep her brother’s back in view the entire time but she lost him a second or two to look behind her to make sure that Hamish and Raven were not following.
“I am so sorry, Alice,” Timothy said quickly. “I should never have gotten you into this. I remember it all now. I remember the tricks and the lies.” He looked back and her fearfully.
“I’m going to get us out of this. Don’t worry. We just need to run now. I’ll talk to Amy and the Guilds again and they can take care of Dan. We’ll all prepare a safe place for the two of you to go.”
“Tim, I’m glad that you see that Raven and Hamish were lying but you’re not making any since! Where can we run to? I was with the Guilds a short time ago and now they are being turned into ghouls because of it.”
“I am sorry that the Guilds are being punished for helping us but worse things will happen if you stay. I need you to run… We all need you to run,” Timothy insisted.
“I’m not leaving you or Dan again. We all need to leave. We stand a better chance together!”
“Dan and I cannot change Raven’s plans the way you can. If you leave than Raven’s plans come to halt. You can stop all of this and keep Dan and me safe.”
“I will not help Raven but I cannot just abandon you!”
“Alice, I am your older brother and I know more about Raven than you do. Believe me when I say I know that this is the best choice. Now stop arguing with me and go.”
Timothy was not one to get angry quickly but Alice could see that he was angry now. She took a deep breath to squelch down the fear that rose in her. Alice did the only thing she could do. She nodded to her brother and started running.
Alice run with all her might. She was never a tall person and her short legs made it hard for her to run quickly. She had never been a fast runner but she gave it all of her effort and could only pray that it was enough.
She knew that she had not run far or long but her lungs already began to burn and wheeze. She slowed and fought hard not to slow to a walk. Alice wanted to continue running even if she could not run fast. Her brother had sounded desperate and that was not like him at all! He was always so strong. She knew that he would not have asked her to leave unless he was sure that was the best choice. She wanted to do all that she could to help him and Dan both. Running was the only thing that she could think to do. She took a deep breath and fought the urge to stop. She kept running until a black shape loomed before her.
Alice bit down hard on her lip to stop herself from screaming! She felt hands grab at her from behind and whipped her head round to see that she was surrounded. Her first instinct was to struggle and kick but she knew that her struggles would amount to nothing against such odds. Her short escape attempt was already ruined. Alice felt anger and disappointment well up in her. But it was not Raven she was disappointed in but in herself. Her brother had begged her to run and she could not even do that!
Alice had never been one who as easy to give up but she felt herself loosing hope as the men brought her back to where Raven stood with her brother. Timothy stood next to her captor as stiff as a piece of wood. His face was blank and unmoving. Alice could tell, even from that distance, that Timothy was hypnotized once more. There could not be another escape for some time.