A short time later Marley and Hamish returned, both looking haggard, a haunted look in their eyes. Marley looked to the bed, then at the slumbering Barnabus. She exhaled softly and walked over to the corner, pulling Barnabus’s cap low over his eyes, and gently stroked his cheek.
No one spoke, pretending not to see the soft scene before them. Montrose was sitting up with a grim expression. Hamish began filling him in with what he knew, followed by Janice, relating the events on the cruise ship. Once they were finished, Barnabas began to speak although he had not shifted position, telling his story.
“Do you think Ambrose was under an outside influence, or has he betrayed us?”
Hamish began to answer, but Martley interrupted the corgi.
“I am certain it was his choice, but no clue what could have led to it.” The violet eyes of both bears met, holding the gaze for some moments.
Barnabus stood, retrieving the jinn blade.
“We should leave,” he said, “they know where we have holed up. Besides, I want to have a word with the witch.” The bear walked over to Montrose, offering his shoulder. He easily supported the other bear, the pair shuffling out the door with the others close behind. None saw the glassy eyes, blinking with exaggerated lashes, peering through a crack in the wall.
The group moved through the winding streets to Stratha’s basement. The door was stuck, however, leaving everyone awaiting a frustrated outburst from Barnabus. Sensing their stares, he looked around.
“What are you looking at?”
He sighed and leaned back, kicking the door hard, sending a split from top to bottom. Throwing his shoulder into it, the door gave way.
Inside was a room hazy with humidity. The wood around them was creaking as it warped under the unnatural atmosphere. Ahead of them was Stratha, still strapped to the cabinet. She was gasping in the harsh air. Barnabus drew the jinn’s blade and nodded to Hamish, who held the witch’s arms steady while the cords were cut away. It was a slow process to free her, but eventually she was helped away. Hamish and Janice set about destroying the cabinet while Barnabus began investigating the cords.
Latitia and Marley busied themselves with reviving Stratha. She was trying to say something, but was barely audible. Suddenly, Barnabus rushed through the room, grabbing the larger bear and the Corgi. On their way to the door, he grabbed the witch from the floor. Without a word, everyone charged through the door, spending their energy running in blind faith rather than wasting time with words.