A/N: 83yo Chosen One Edna Fisher heads to Barstow, California, where she hopes to find a woman who works for the sorcerer Redway. However, the woman disappears before Edna and her friends can learn Redway's plans. When dragons attack Barstow, Edna's teen companion, Clem, is mistakenly kidnapped as the Chosen One.
In other news, if anyone speaks Spanish and wants to tell me if my translations are wrong or simply awkward/unnatural/overly formal/not formal enough constructions, that would be lovely.
Edna clutched her handbag in one hand, her cane in the other, and kept her eyes fixed on the dragons flying steadily southeastward. She could no longer tell which had Clem on it. Beside her, Benjamin had regained consciousness but was still dazed and coughing and rolled over now and then to wretch over the side of the carpet. Behind her, Kiernan sat with his legs crossed and his head hanging heavily in his hands like a lead weight. The fire had got to both of them badly, but she had little concern to spare.
They raced along, well out of the skylanes but far below the dragons. It occurred to her that she ought to come up with a plan. Surely they were taking Clem to Redway—perhaps he hadn’t even been in Barstow, perhaps Clem’s plans had been doomed from the start—and surely she wouldn’t be able to waltz in after them. Assuming she could even find their landing place. The longer they flew, the further ahead the dragons pulled. Already they looked a good deal smaller than they had on their way out of Barstow.
Edna leaned forward and urged Beatrice faster, but it was no good. She could feel the carpet straining, but the edges were blackened and burned, frayed and warped, and they weren’t going as fast as she remembered Beatrice going before, when they’d flown through the battle after Clem. The fire had done a number on the carpet, too. Which would have made her feel worse, if she was capable of feeling worse just now: Amir had worked so hard, worn himself out, made himself sick, and already his enchantments had been put through dragonfire and were wearing thin. She had to imagine they could have withstood an ordinary fire, but dragonfire was one of the few things that could reliably destroy magical objects and undo enchantments. She wished she could see him.
Somewhere in her handbag, a cell phone rang. Conga drums and horns, that song from that other musical Clem liked.
Edna scrambled to find it, certain that it was Amir, that he had somehow heard her thoughts and somehow realized she had Clem’s phone on her and somehow found Clem’s number. It was the sort of impossible thing she needed just then.
But it was the one thing that could make her feel worse at this moment. Clem’s mother.
With dread in the pit of her stomach, Edna answered.
“Clementine?” Clem’s mother cried. “Mija, thank God! I’ve been so worried. They said on the news—”
Edna took a deep breath.
“Mrs. Rodriguez?” she said softly.
The speech broke off. Edna closed her eyes. There would be a moment where Clem’s mother would not accept that it was not Clem on the phone, where she would be certain she had misheard, and then that moment would be gone and she would scream, or cry, or faint. Or perhaps she would do nothing, turn gray and silent and old in an instant and go about her work because it was all she could do. The only comfort Edna had for her was that Clem was not dead. At least for now.
“Where is my daughter?” Clem’s mother asked at last, shakily. “I want to speak to her. Put her on.”
Edna took another deep breath. “Mrs. Rodriguez—”
“Put my daughter on the phone!”
Another voice in the background, incoherent, a struggle in which Edna heard her arguing with someone and crying, and then a different, older voice spoke into the phone.
“Lo siento. Mi hija no está sola en este momento. ¿Quién es este? Senora Fisher?”
Edna had no idea what she was saying, beyond recognizing her own surname. “Is this—is this Clem’s grandmother?”
The voice didn’t seem to know what she was saying, either, but it brightened at the mention of Clem’s name. “Clem, si. ¿Dónde está? Ella está bien?”
“I’m going to find her,” Edna said desperately. “I’m going to get her back. I’m so sorry, I—”
The dragons grew still smaller on the horizon. Edna leaned into Beatrice’s weave and said, “Please, Beatrice dear. Please try.”
The carpet fluttered and strained but couldn’t go any faster. Edna put the phone back to her ear, even though she didn’t know Spanish. In the background she could hear Clem’s mother yelling, also in Spanish, presumably demanding to get the phone back. Another struggle, and then she was back on the phone.
“Usted ni siquiera hablan inglés, mamá!” she hissed, and then she switched back to English. “Please, just tell me she’s all right.”
Edna hesitated. “She’s alive.”
“Thank God.” Clem’s mother started crying. “Thank God. Oh my God, why did she go off like that, why did she—”
“It’s all right,” Edna said, even though it was very far from all right. “I’m going to get her back, I promise—”
“Get her back? What do you—?”
The call cut off.
“Mrs. Rodriguez?” The screen flashed the words “call dropped.” Edna pressed it back to her ear and shouted into the phone. “Mrs. Rodriguez! Are you there? Hello?”
No one answered. The screen went black. Edna thrust the phone at Kiernan, since he looked the better of the two boys. Benjamin was throwing up over Beatrice’s side again.
“Call them back!” she demanded.
The elf gazed at her dazedly for a moment like he couldn’t conceive of such a thing as a phone call at a time like this, then took the phone and looked at it.
“I can’t,” he said, handing it back to her. “There aren’t any bars.”
Edna had no clue what that meant and didn’t much care. “Make it work. They’re worried about her.”
“I can’t make it work. That’s what I’m telling you. The cell service out here is really patchy. You won’t be able to call them back unless we wind up somewhere with better reception.”
Edna threw the phone back into her handbag in a rage and immediately pulled it out again to make sure she hadn’t damaged it. Clem would never forgive her.
Ahead, the dragons stopped flying onward and instead hovered, circling over the greenery far below. Edna sat up straighter and clutched her handbag tighter.
“What are they doing?” she said in a strangled voice. “What’s going on?”
Kiernan gazed past her bolted upright, looking more alert than he had since he’d rescued them from the porch. He said nothing as Beatrice flew them closer, but his eyes narrowed.
“Do you think they’re there?” Edna asked. “Wherever they’re taking her?”
The watched the dragons for a moment. Benjamin wiped his mouth weakly and sat up.
“They’re not making a descent,” he said. “They’re just…”
“Circling,” Edna said.
Kiernan’s eyes were still narrowed.
“Someone must have fallen off,” he said at last. “Do you think—?”
Edna wrung her hands.
“I don’t see how we’ll ever find her,” she said. “If she fell—oh! She’ll be lost. She could get hurt—she could die—it’s such a long way to fall. Oh—”
The dread that had settled in her stomach when Clem’s mother called rose to her chest and tightened around her lungs like a metal band. Benjamin put an arm around her but then leaned into her, still weak from the fire.
“She’ll be fine,” he said. “She’s too stubborn to die.”
Edna started crying. “Oh, how can you joke at a time like this!”
Benjamin lay back on the carpet. “Sorry. I was just trying to…”
He sat up again, so quickly that his face turned ashen and gray. He sat like that for a minute, breathing in a way that said quite clearly he was fighting the urge to vomit again. Then he said weakly, “What if she jumped on purpose?”
Kiernan stared at him. “That’s suicide.”
Benjamin shook his head almost imperceptibly and quickly stopped. “She knows some spells. There’s one she can do, she could slow herself down—I bet she could land safely. Remember, Edna? Like the van. Maybe she jumped on purpose. She might have escaped.”
Edna wiped her eyes on her sleeves. She wanted to hope. But there was still so much that could go wrong.
“Even if she lands safely,” she said, “how would we ever find her?”
“Do you have something of hers?” he asked.
Edna produced Clem’s phone. He examined it again, more carefully this time, turning it over in his hands.
“Not ideal,” he said, “but we could use it to divine her. I’m not great at spells, but over a short range I should be able to—”
Edna wiped her eyes again. “You know how to divine people?”
If only they’d found him so much sooner.
He hesitated again. “I know…a bit. I couldn’t find someone halfway across the world, but within a few miles should be all right. I have to have an object, preferably something that meant a lot to them. Like I said, a phone’s not ideal, but she used it a lot, right? So I should be able to do something with that.”
Edna expected Benjamin to raise all sorts of objections about how divination was tricky magic and not allowed without a license and how they’d be more likely to accidentally blow themselves up than succeed, but he nodded.
“Okay,” he said, “so we land as close as we can to where we think she went down, and then—”
Edna laughed and hiccupped.
“Take us closer, Beatrice!” she cried. “And fly lower. As soon as they fly off, we’ll land and start the search.”
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