The rain wasn’t letting up any. It was almost like Audrey had conjured their heated transparent gazebo under a waterfall—which was actually a totally cool effect. Still, getting all the way back to the portals seemed a little unreasonable given the weather. Besides that, it was no longer as clear whose world they should try to go to or how they would get there.

“Well, I’ve actually got a lot of news too,” Nadine played with her charm bracelet and watched Audrey and Horera to see if they had any more to say first.

It actually bothered Nadine a little that her bracelet hadn’t crossed over from the dream to Eden when she woke up this morning. Sure the nightgowns from the sleep-over hadn’t or really anything else they’d ever made in the dream—but the bracelets were different. The bracelets were important.

“Hopefully good news?” Audrey put an arm around Horera and both watched Nadine attentively.

Nadine pulled herself up to sit on a transparent windowsill, “Some of both, I guess. The good news is I found my Dad!”

“Yippie!” Horera shot across the room and latched around Nadine’s legs before she had a chance to get down from the windowsill.

“That’s wonderful!” Audrey smiled, pulling her spellbook and scepter back into her lap.

“Yeah!” Nadine laughed, soaking in the chill from the rain at her back and the warmth of the shelter and her friends in front of her. “My Dad was the one who saved us back in Metropolis! He’d been on his way to see me; and since I went looking for him he decided to let me in on what he’s doing!”

“What that?” Horera looked up wide-eyed.

Nadine bit her lip, “That’s sort of the bad news. It’s related to The Reclamation, only I still don’t totally understand it.”

“What can you tell us?” Audrey asked.

“Well, I guess there’s this war between Heaven and Hell, and The Reclamation happened when that war spilled over into Eden—only the war’s still been going this whole time since The Reclamation! My Dad’s representing Eden in the war and keeping it from coming back to Eden, but Hell is finally starting to win and if they do…” Nadine didn’t need to finish that thought. “Anyway, we need to end it in favor of the good-guys. That means actually leaving Eden and assassinating The Archfiend in whatever other-world this war’s being fought in.”

“Wow,” Audrey slumped back against the wall with a sympathetic weariness that Nadine appreciated.

“Yeah,” Nadine leaned her head back to watch the rain. “It’s huge. But for now, I’m just happy to be with my Dad again. Together I know we’ll figure this out somehow.”

Horera rubbed her face on Nadine’s leg and held it tightly. A little too insistently actually. Nadine frowned and looked down at the dogling.

“Hey, Horera, are you sure you’re okay?”

Horera nodded, but this time Nadine was sure she could see tears in Horera’s eyes. “Horera Life Champion. Got to be okay. Needed.”

“You don’t have to be okay,” Nadine hopped down to hold Horera, “Not with us.”

“And if you’re not okay, you should let us help you,” Audrey left her book and scepter to sit on the other side of Horera.

“Horera scared!” The little dogling’s trembling finally gave way to crying, “What if do bad? What if no beat Bad Man? What if friends hurt bad?”

“You have to trust your friends, Horera,” Nadine whispered, “Even my Dad couldn’t save the world all by himself.”












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