Part 22

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PART TWENTY-TWO:

Calling Out

CHARMIAN RAN OUTSIDE Sugar Loaf Rock, looking wildly from side to side.  Justin was no longer in view.  She could only assume he had managed to drag the manitou out of hiding and had retreated.  Red Bird was still there, but she was heading for the woods.  Following Justin?  Charmian went after her, yelling, "Red Bird!"

She caught up with the girl just as she fell to her knees at the edge of the woods and with a sudden heave threw up in the grass.  Charmian came to an abrupt stop, face going white.  She hadn't expected that.  When Red Bird finished and wiped her mouth, panting weakly, she moved forward and knelt beside her.

"Are you okay?" she asked.

Red Bird nodded, hand still to her mouth.  "Y...yes...I'm all right...just not feeling very well."

"What was that all about?"

"Tal Natha...Tal Natha doesn't like Lord Justin very much."  In the back of Charmian's mind a voice said, Well, there's an understatement.  "He doesn't like him to be around...he'd prefer for him to keep to his own kind.  Your kind of people."

"Why did you follow him?" Charmian asked, keeping her voice low.  Tal Natha still hadn't come out from Sugar Loaf, but she was afraid of his reaction if and when he would.  "If Tal Natha doesn't like him as much as I think he does, I don't think he'd like the idea of you running after him, either."

Red Bird sat back on her heels with a sniff.  She looked at Charmian and seemed embarrassed.  "I believe I know what you're thinking...you think that there is something between us, between Lord Justin and myself, and Tal Natha is jealous.  Is this what you're thinking?"

Charmian flushed red.  "Well...I didn't want to be rude...but that is kind of what it looked like...but I mean, hey, it's your business and all..."

To which the voice replied, Only I wouldn't want a jealous demon for a boyfriend!!

"It's not that way at all," Red Bird said.  "Lord Justin...Lord Justin has feelings for me, it's true, but I have none for him.  I would like to consider him a friend, if it weren't so awkward.  He still wishes to win me even though he knows he cannot.  Tal Natha knows I would never betray him.  But he doesn't like that Lord Justin still tries to win me.  He can be possessive, it's true...but I think he's also afraid of losing me.  Perhaps it's why he's angry that I'm in danger and I can't seem to bring out this 'power' of mine."  She suddenly grimaced and bent forward, hands clamped to her stomach.  Charmian touched her shoulder, growing alarmed.  After a moment whatever it was passed, and Red Bird let out her breath and smiled weakly.

"I'm all right, really I am...I think I've become too nervous.  I knew this would happen, such a large responsibility being placed on me, when I don't even know what to do next."

"That's okay," Charmian said, "I don't really know why I'm here, either.  I'm not doing a very good job of protecting you or anything!"

A soft laugh; Charmian smiled.  The girl seemed to laugh so rarely that it was good to hear it, at least for once.  "Well then...perhaps I would have better luck in your world, instead."

"Come on, we'd better get back to the others."  Charmian took Red Bird's arm and helped her up.  "Before they start wondering what happened to us."

"True...it was rude of me to just run out like that.  I didn't wish to make a mess in Old Mother Manitou's place..."

"Don't worry about that either, she could just get Drake to clean it up."

Red Bird laughed again and they headed back for the rock.

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