That horrible smell, like the worst body odour mixed with rotting meat, was still too familiar. Jonathon would never forget it. Worl, the King’s scheming brother, and all his men smelled like this. They wore the smell like the King’s men wore their red and gold badges.
Jon’s heartbeat ratcheted up. What are they doing here? They were supposed to be caught. He glanced at the Grue woman. Her eyes were wide. Fear? Her hand crept up to her throat and for the first time, Jonathon saw the bruises on her wrist. What caused those?
“We have to go for help.” Jon said. “The San is our best bet.”
As Jonathon looked around the circle and sniffed the air, he realized that the breeze was coming from the direction of the path to the San’s fortress. The smell was between them and the route to safety.
Amia grabbed Jonathon’s arm.
“We must go this way, now!” A tremble in her hand betrayed her. Jon put his hand over hers and squeezed.
“Where do we go?” He asked.
“Wait, Jon.” Gramp stopped him. “Why don’t we just go back through to home?”
“Gramp, that smell means trouble,” Jonathon gestured earnestly. “Remember I told you about Worl? He’s not just bad, Gramp. He will kill us…”
“Kill?” Marly’s voice rose. “I want to go home now!”
“We can’t.” Desperation crept into Jonathon’s words. “They might catch up with us before we go through and we can’t fight back. I don’t know how long it takes for the portal to work. What if they catch us while we’re asleep but haven’t crossed over?” He looked at his grandfather.
“We have no choice, Gramp. We have to follow Amia and we have to go now before it’s too late.”