"Not even if I gave him this?"  Charmian jiggled the necklace.  "It's no ordinary jewel, trust me.  He won't be able to turn it down."  Her grin grew.  "I'll make him an offer he can't refuse."

Drake was the only one who laughed.  The others just looked stupefied.

Charmian put the necklace back in the bag.  "In any case...who's going to take me there, to see him?  I know it's not very pleasant...but I can't really walk all the way, especially not at night."

X started to step forward when Silver Eagle Feather put out her arm to hold him back, giving him a reproving look so his ears folded down.  "You've been out for hours," she said to Charmian, "but I believe Pakwa still waits outside for you."

"Pakwa?  Really?"  She'd forgotten about the GeeBee; even so, she'd supposed he'd have just gone back to...wherever it was he'd come from.  It was strange to think he'd been sitting outside the rock all day.  "Okay.  He can take me, then.  I'll try to be back as soon as I can.  This isn't going to be easy, I know...I bet I'm going to have to argue a little bit."

"Please, can I go?" X asked his mother.

"No, no thanks," Charmian said quickly.  "Really, it's okay.  I'll have Pakwa there if I have to leave really fast.  I'll tell him to keep close by.  Tal Natha's already hurt, I wouldn't want you hurt again too.  Don't worry, I don't think he's interested in killing me or anything."  Though a small part in the back of her mind quailed at the thought of meeting up with him again.

X's wings drooped.  "All right.  Take care."

"I will."  She put the bag in her pocket and went toward the door, walking a bit awkwardly; it had been quite a while since she'd gone to the bathroom, and now she was starting to feel it!

Once outside she glanced up at the rock and saw, indeed, that the GeeBee was still perched up there, yellow eyes glinting in the moonlight.  "Hold on just a sec," Charmian called.  "I have to go...take care of some business, then you can take me somewhere, okay?"

He didn't say anything, so she took that as a yes and disappeared into the woods.  It was a good thing she'd brought along some tissues...this was embarrassing!

When she returned from the woods, the GeeBee still hadn't moved.  She stopped in the clearing and held up her arms.  "Okay," she called; Red Bird had appeared at the door and was watching.  Charmian pretended not to notice her as Pakwa jumped from the rock, caught her under the arms, and pulled her up and away into the sky.

"Where do we go now, fleshling?"

"Devil's Lake.  I have to talk with Ocryx."

Well, so far he was the only one who didn't offer her any warning or advice.  Instead he turned right and soared in the direction of the lake.

The whole time Charmian's teeth chattered like castanets.  It may have been warm out during the day, but at night it was most definitely autumn.  She didn't have her jacket on anymore, and wondered how it was that she kept forgetting these things if she was supposed to be so prepared.

"P-P-Pakwa, isn-isn't that it d-d-down there?  Think you c-could s-s-slow down now?"

The GeeBee responded by immediately hurtling down toward the water.  Charmian bit into her tongue to stop herself from screaming.

He miscalculated this time and her feet hit the ground hard; he let go of her arms and she fell forward onto her knees and then her face.  Spitting out dirt, she cast an evil look up at the creature as he hovered in midair.

"Got a problem?" she hissed in a whisper.

"You'd have gone into the lake if I didn't drop you.  I just did what I thought best."

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