“What took you so long?”
Sami shrieked and tried to jump into my arms.
“Be still.” I turned to Silas who was perched on an outcropping of rock beside us. “Where do we stand?”
“Physically or metaphysically?”
I didn’t reply, but gave my best annoyed cat expression back.
“Not bad physically. They’ll have to cross that flat and there is no way to hide.” He flicked his ears forward. “They are still a few minutes out. The darkening horizon.”
I nodded. “As good as can we can hope for.”
“Inversion on this side will be in ten minutes, give or take.”
“Nothing is ever easy.”
He said nothing, but stretched and dragged his claws across the rock so tiny sparks leapt and sputtered. Good we were not in a forest. The last thing I needed was a fire to contend with, too.
“That’s not Silas.” Sami held her sword fully extended in front of her, her elbows locked. That stance would get her killed faster than trying Silas’s patience.
“Fix your guard, unless you want to die before the battle even begins.” I knocked my palm against her inner elbows. She dropped her guard with a flush spreading across her face.
“Of course, I am Silas.” He dropped down with the grace of all cats. In fairness to Sami, he was ten times his normal size. “And you, mousling, better learn fast to get us out of this mess. I do not look well inside out.”
I glared at Silas. It is one thing to try to prepare someone for the Other Side. It is quite another to talk about inversion to someone who is an apprentice and on the fine edge of panic.
“Do not worry about that now. That is our future problem. First we must survive the goblin horde.”
“You don’t think they are coming for tea, do you?” Silas growled and it shook the ground, causing Sami to stumble.
“Get your guard up and stay near me. Do not let them surround you. Do not give up the high ground.”
I did not know if she attended to me or not. I had my own preparations to see to as the horde came close enough to begin to count individual goblins, each holding a pick or axe or sword, and snarling curses that thankfully Sami could not yet understand. A small blessing, perhaps, of my apprentice’s less than enthusiastic study. I laughed and Silas twitched his ears.
“There’s always a silver lining even to laziness, you just have to come to the Other Side.” Then I drew my sword and yelled.