Trembling, and ignoring the dead bogles, Rossamünd crept closer to the fallen fulgar. His heart teetered on the brink of complete terror at the thought of being left alone in this malignant place. As he neared her, he bent lower and ever lower, trying to see her face, trying to gain some hopeful hint of her condition. She lay twisted, limbs carelessly poking every which way, long hair a wispy mess obscuring her whole head. Holding back for just a moment, he knelt beside her and gingerly poked some of her chestnut locks away from her throat, cheek and brow. She was deathly pale.

Grinnling cries in the distance.

Rossamünd scurried to the landaulet, took the lantern and dashed back to where the fulgar lay. He knelt and looked to see if she was still alive, wanting to weep but holding it in- he had cried enough on this journey. Blood was running from Europe's nose. There were nasty bites upon her neck where the proofing did not cover. Breaths did come: short, shallow puffing. She lived!

Rossamünd leaned closer and whispered, “Miss . . . ! Miss . . . Miss Europe . . . !”

The fulgar's lashes fluttered and slowly parted, her vision clearly swimming. They shut again and it seemed she might slip into insensibility. Rossamünd pressed twice, sharply, on her shoulder, not wanting her to pass out. She groaned and shifted, opening her eyes again to peer at him.

With a gasp, Europe pushed herself up on her arms and sat, head lolling, hair drooping. “What happened?” she panted.

Rossamünd sat back. “You won . . . you beat them all.”

She looked about, blinking heavily. Her eyes were streaming with ash-colored tears.

Rossamünd winced. He had hit her with the bothersalts too.

After a long pause and a deep sigh, she whispered, “Good . . . They were . . . difficult.” Sitting up straighter, she flexed her shoulders and rolled her head about, grunting and grimacing. “My organs have spasmed,” she breathed cryptically. “Not the best time for it, at all . . . I thought I was done for.” Pausing for a rattling wheeze of air, she muttered, “Never advisable to . . . start a fight . . . when one is missing a . . . a dose of treacle.”  

Text copyright © by D.M Cornish. Illustrations copyright © by D.M Cornish