Silence falls among them, an eerie, ominous silence, smothering and frightening and made all the worse by the amplified murmur of each footstep. Alma can almost feel the tensing of Gwydion’s muscles as he instinctively tightens his grip on the young Bunny. Just ahead of them, Saira has started zigzagging from shadow to shadow, calling on the Bunnies to do the same, all the while muttering to herself, “I don’t like this. I don’t like this. I don’t like this.”
The alley seems to stretch at each step they take, the end of it always looking so very close but seemingly unreachable.
This feels unnatural, Alma thinks.
A hand suddenly grabs her right wrist and pulls her into the shadow of a rickety building, quickly moving to her lips, to stop her from making a sound. The familiar scent of Gwydion’s cologne is all that keeps her from taking that hand and breaking a couple of fingers.
“Shh…” the god urges her, uncovering her mouth. “Watch.”
A few seconds later, Alma’s eyes widen at the sight of Saira and six Bunnies running just past the spot where both gods are hiding.
“But they…they were running ahead of us,” Alma notes, her heart racing with anxiety.
“It’s a spell,” Gwydion explains. “An entrapment illusion.”
“Must be trying to wear us out,” the goddess infers. “Can you break it?”
Gwydion nods slowly. “If I can find the spellcaster, yes. This is a very specific, short-range illusion. The caster will need to be hiding close by, in order to maintain it.”
“Then whoever it is, we’ve just let them know that we are onto their trap,” Alma notes, her eyes already searching the darkness. “I couldn’t see any unfamiliar souls before and I still can’t see any now.”
“Our enemy must be using some kind of cloaking,” Gwydion suggests. “The fact that I could feel his spell tells me that he’s, at best, a mid-level mage. Let me try something.”
Reaching into a jacket pocket, the god produces a small vial of a glittery reddish powder and, opening it, tips some of its contents on the street.
“Reveal,” he whispers, and the powder begins to move and spread, scouting the area.
Alma watches in mild fascination as the powder particles start to gather around an inconspicuous shadow on a far wall, tracing its outline in red.
“Shadow binder,” she says, cringing at the sight of Saira and the Bunnies crossing her line of sight again.
“Must be my friend from the Singing Cockroach,” Gwydion surmises. “A lovely establishment, by the way,” he adds incisively.
Alma grins at being reminded of the way she once suggested that den of criminals as a good place to take up residence.
“Now, please cover your eyes,” Gwydion requests.
The goddess quickly complies, avoiding the flash of light that immediately fills the alley and that would most certainly have destroyed her nightvision had she hesitated. A piercing scream and she uncovers her eyes to find powder and shadow gone, and Saira and the Bunnies standing, immobile and confused, halfway into the now reasonably long alley, looking back at where the flash occurred, scanning the area in search of their Dei companions.
“Impressive…” Alma mutters.
“He should be out of action for quite awhile,” Gwydion states. “But we do need to keep moving.”
The gods step out of the shadows, the Bunnies run to them…
… and suddenly disappear.