Part 18

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PART EIGHTEEN:

Fallout

THERE WASN'T A face in the clearing that didn't look shocked.

"Die?" Red Bird whispered.  She'd moved close to press against Tal Natha, taking his arm again.

"Wh...what?" Marcott stammered.  His glasses looked ready to slide off his nose.

"Charm?" Drake said, sounding confused.

Charmian rubbed her hand, trying to explain.  "It...it didn't say that it would happen...but it's afraid it will happen...because of things that other...people...are doing..."

A growl.  Get to the point, human!  Did it tell you we were going to die, or not?

"Tal Natha."

Silver Eagle Feather appeared at the edge of the clearing, coming their way.  She cast him a look as she walked past and again he looked sulky.  "I realize you're concerned but taking it out on the others will get you nowhere.  You take more after Father than you think."

Tal Natha didn't seem to appreciate the comparison but said nothing.

Silver Eagle Feather stopped before Charmian and put a hand on her shoulder.  At the touch Charmian felt her mind clearing from the Uroona's influence.  The great beast reared up so it stood on all fours again.  It turned and ponderously made its way back into the woods, letting out a long, low, barely audible sound; from around the clearing she could hear the sound of others following it, back to wherever they had come from.  The noise of their passing was merely the rustling of leaves and grass and the slight crunch of twigs.

She almost started when the woman knelt before her and looked in her eyes.  That strange green drew her in.  "Tell me," Silver Eagle Feather said softly.  "Tell me what it said to you."

Charmian bit her lip.  "It...I'm not sure...but I think it had something to do with the GeeBees.  I saw that green one.  The leader."

"Augwak?"  Tal Natha finally spoke up again.  "What has he to do with our fate?  He's merely a Wendigo.  Frightening and annoying, but not deadly to Ocryxes."

"Keep going," Silver Eagle Feather prompted.

"Oh...well...I think I saw him...and he was holding something, like a splinter...and somebody was talking to him, telling him he had everything he needed to take over...nobody would be left to challenge him...like he was making a bargain or something.  And he was happy about it.  I could feel it.  I could feel that he was happy about it."

"Who was talking to him?  Do you know?"

"No...I don't recognize the voice.  I didn't even see who it was.  I thought I saw something, but..."  She trailed off helplessly.  Without the Uroona there with her, the memory was fading fast.

"That's all right.  What led you to believe this had something to do with us--everyone--dying?  Was it something you saw?"

"Well...the Uroona let me know it hasn't happened yet, and of course it hasn't, since he's still here..." Tal Natha frowned "...but I saw the Ocryxes--Ocryx, X, Tal Natha--and they were all killed.  Destroyed.  And then someone was laughing.  And the Island went red..."

Silver Eagle Feather frowned this time.  Tal Natha stepped forward, brushing Red Bird away from him.  You hear what she says?  "The Ocryxes."  Those of us with more than half-Ocryx in our blood.  Yet she mentions only three.  My father.  My brother.  Myself.  His eyes narrowed.  We all know who it is she leaves out and why.

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