stupid. I knew half of what he said, but the other half was nonsense.
Steven's brow creased with concern. "I know it's a lot to hear at
once. I'm sorry, but we don't have a lot of time for me to take it
easy." He rose, offering me his hand. "We must start moving if we
wish to remain safe."
"That sounds ominous," I replied as I rose. The throb in my shoulder
flared briefly, dimming my vision, but I pushed it back. "What's so
unsafe about here?"
We started walking before he answered. "Those who dwell Between are
usually crazy, gifted with bizarre powers, and are always dangerous.
It doesn't go well for outsiders."
I rubbed at my shoulder. "It doesn't look like there's anyone here."
We'd left the alley for a wide thoroughfare. No vehicles, no people,
no animals, no signs of life. Windows were blank, sidewalks were
clean, and sodium lamps lit the street every twenty yards. "It looks
like a model," I mused.
"That's how they want it." The young man went on alert, his eyes
darting everywhere. His nervousness didn't transmit to me, and I
continued blithely strolling along the sidewalk alongside the healer.
Steven said nothing further, giving me a few moments to dredge through
I knew my name was Morgan, and I knew I worked for the Gray Lords of
Balance. But I didn't who Steven was. I was supposed to be somewhere
with him, so it was likely I was returning him to my bosses.
Rubbing at my collarbone again, I tried to recall how I got hurt.
Steven said I'd been hit when we changed planes. I'd never been hit
while shifting before, that much was certain. I hadn't even known it
Vertigo filled my head with light and chimes, making me stumble.
Steven grabbed me, kept me from falling. I trembled in his arms,
unable to speak. From a great distance I heard Steven calling my
There was no way to answer. Nothing past basic motor skills would
function. I tried to scream, but my throat was frozen. Not even a
twitch. I walked with Steven, my feet moving as they should, my
nerves feeding me all the input they could, but I couldn't do a thing
A presence pinged my shields, resonating behind my eyes, setting off
another wave of vertigo. I lost awareness of anything outside my
head. I might. Have collapsed, I might have kept walking with Steven.
Compared to what was happening in my mind, falling seemed irrelevant.
"You look tasty," the presence said. He pressed against my shields,
forging a link with me. No vertigo this time, no pain. Just a
sensation of being examined.
"Who are you?" I snapped. Speaking in my head was easier than I'd
thought, and I knew then that I'd done it before. One of those
tidbits buried in the back of my head. Was I always like this,
popping up with random facts.
"Kurlog the Red. Who are you?" His voice was rough, deep, with just
a hint of laughter. He was impertinent, but not demanding. Hunger
and humor crept through the link we shared. Kurlog was better at
telepathy than me, and took more information from me than I got from
If I'd done this before, surely I could do it again. "I'm Morgan, and
I work for the Gray Lords."
My mental voice echoed through the link, making its way to Kurlog,
wherever he was. I became intent on his presence, focused my entire
being on him. Something shifted, and my spirit plunged through the
I cried out, finding myself in a fire-lit hall, hounds fighting over
bones, wenches serving drink and food, warriors laughing and
feasting. No one noticed my entrance, didn't bother to glance my way.
Narrowing my eyes, I looked around, attempting to puzzle out my
"you're in my hall, Gorgeous." The voice was familiar, full of
laughter. I turned, meeting the first gaze since I'd arrived. He
cracked a broad smile behind a thick red beard. High cheekbones
guarded twinkling eyes, cutting sharply against the flesh of his
"Kurlog the Red," I said, resting hands on my hips.
"Morgan of the Gray Lords," he replied, rising from his throne. I
stared up at seven feet of leather kilt wearing warrior, still confused
by recent events. "I'd have killed less of your kind if I'd known
they were this beautiful." Kurlog laughed, drawing his sword.
How the hell did I get out of here?