Standing was difficult after the impact, but she managed it, hissing in pain. In spite of the violence with threw her from the nightmare, she knew there were others nearby. They were perched in the window nook, silently watching. SHe was familiar with the scents of two of them, but the third was a mystery. When she was able to speak, she addressed the trio.
“Ambrose. Sonny. Thank you for coming. Who is your friend?
Both bears grinned. They could never fool her.
“This is Latricia,” Ambrose said, “I met her a while back. She caught up as we were approaching.” Marley had still not turned. She was probably getting the new bear’s scent, Ambrose thought.
“So,” Sonny began, “what have you found to entertain yourself tonight?”
Marley grinned, in spite of herself. Her friend’s sardonic way of speaking was always reassuring. He seemed indolent, but was determined and silent in a fight. Ambrose was more likely to be warm and jovial, but both were pleasant company.
“Latricia, what do you know of bogeys?”
The unfamiliar bear stared down at Marley. She still had not turned, but was fixed on the shadows beneath the bed. There was a confidence in her voice that made Latricia feel vulnerable in spite of having fought nightmares for several years.
“I’ve fought boogeymen before. They’re tricky, but not particularly troublesome.”
Finally, Marley turned, staring intently. Sonny and Ambrose had gone rigid. Their silence was unnerving after hearing them banter so much on the way to the house.
“No, I said bogeys. They existed before the boogeymen. There are more of the latter, but they are pale imitations of the former..”
Latricia noticed that Sonny’s jaw had gone rigid and his nostrils flared.
“Maybe you and Ambrose should stay back. I’ve fought one before. You have no idea how vicious they are.” His voice cracked with emotion. He was barely contain a rising rage that lifted his lips quivering. There was a note of a growl in his voice. Marley evidently noticed this, although she had not taken her eyes off Latricia.
“No. This is all paws on deck, Sonny. Get yourself under control.” She turned to look at him, speaking coldly.
“You know how I feel about a bear that cannot maintain their composure. You’re beginning to act like,” she paused, “him.”
The tone of her voice brought Sonny up short. He snorted and looked away, but it was obvious her words hit home. Ambrose was doing his best to not draw attention, looking at Latricia from the corner of his eye. That glance was a warning. He struck her as being an unflappable personality, but even he was cautious not to cross Marley.
Finally, Sonny nodded his head. Turning, he crouched and lowered himself to the floor before addressing her.
“Alright, since you decided to give me that verbal slap, what next?” He bent over and picked up what was left of Marley’s swords, shattered in her earlier fight. The hooded bear looked at them and pursed her lips before closing her eyes and reaching into the folds of her jacket. She drew out a large sword with a crescent guard that was barely wider than the blade. Ambrose whistled.
“Does he know that you have that?”
“He does now. If that old fool were using it, I would have taken his other sword.”
Latricia starred in puzzlement.
“What are you talking about? Where did that sword come from?”
The other two bears both made a show of not hearing the question, but Marley turned and said:
I can draw the weapons of certain bears, so long as they are not using them. This bear carries several. He’s probably a bit ill with me now.” Her eyes narrowed with dark humor.