Chapter 26

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"No, no, no, no!"

Puck looked at Brandon quizzically. "What do you mean, no?"

"What do I mean? What do you think I mean? I'm not going to let her get herself killed! Especially not by some fairy queen who belongs in a freaking book!"

"Brandon..." Evenly said, sliding beside him on the ground.

"No, no," Brandon said, putting his hand up irritably. "You don't belong to his world, you belong to this world! Why should you have to risk your life going there when you're perfectly safe here?"

"Because we can all die if she doesn't!" Puck yelled, jumping to his feet. "Without her we face war!"

"So what!" Brandon screamed, jumping to his own feet. "She's not a part of your world anymore! How dare you risk her life to save your own ass!"

"She's always been a part of our world! It's still her world! She was brought here so she could survive until this moment! Someone like her, she would have been at risk every second of every day until she was strong enough to fight for herself. We brought her here to protect her, to keep her safe! We didn't bring her here to stay forever. One day, one day soon, she's going to have to come home and fulfil her purpose!" Puck was breathing heavy from the effort of screaming, his skin turning darker and darker shades of red.

Evelyn stood, placing her hand on Brandon's arm. "It's OK, Brandon. It won't be forever, just long enough to do what I have to do."

Brandon shook his head, his face showing more fear than concern. "It's not how long it takes that worries me. Look around, look at what he's done and what he's capable of! Hell, he even kidnapped two people without breaking a sweat! Now I'm supposed to sit back and let him take you in front of some queen who's even more powerful than he is, and who by all accounts will be more than happy to kill you if she sees you as a threat? How am I supposed to live with this if you never come back?"

"The queen won't be able to touch her until the spell is recharged." Puck interrupted. "She needs Eve to make sure the prison will survive. Right now it's only being held together by a group of spell casters, but it won't hold long."

"Tell us about that, what is this spell and how can I strengthen it?" Evelyn asked the question eagerly, grateful for the chance of subject. She gripped Brandon's arm tightly and sat, gently but firmly pulling him down beside her.

Puck sensed his opportunity and dropped to the ground, even more relieved with the change than Evelyn, though for different reasons. "It's an entrapment spell," he said, settling into the thick moss beside the pool. He waved his hand over the water once more, summoning the image of what looked like a thick, tangled mass of moving vines. Evelyn had the impression of looking at a ball of snakes, tightly coiled together and moving over and amongst each other. Surrounding the mass was a ring of dark, cloaked figures, six in all, their features blackened by a ring of brightly burning torches that surrounded the entire scene. The figured uttered words Evelyn couldn't understand or even fully hear in a repeating, dreamlike song.

"What you're looking at is the living cage Oberon summoned around both himself and the dark man. Oberon sacrificed himself in battle to entrap the dark man within, a cage that no human could possibly hope to survive."

"So the dark man's human?" Evelyn asked.

Puck nodded. "He was, but not anymore. At least not fully. I gave you a vison of this once Eve, you saw the battle."

Evelyn shivered, remembering all too well the nightmare. "You gave me that dream?"

"I had to Eve, so you could see and feel the dark man's evil. That way you would understand how important it is to maintain the spell."

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