Glory swam with all her might, going on instinct that she was even heading in the right direction. It wasn’t until she kicked off her sneakers and shrugged out of her coat that she managed to make any headway. She broke the surface, gasping and sputtering as the storm which raged around her made reaching air rather moot. Mentally she reached for Phoenix and was relieved to sense his presence even if he withdrew from her in a sulk.
If she hadn’t felt people practically standing on top of the portal into Arkham… Oh well, she was in Kingsport now. There was no help for it.
Unable to see the shore, she cast about with her other senses, her newly awakened senses, and began swimming towards land. Chances were the storm was a hold over of the storm she’d caused in Y’qaa. She hoped no one had gotten hurt in it.
Bho-Rehd and everyone before him had thought reaching the Elder Tablets was the objective in going to Y’qaa. She knew now it had never been, or at least it had not been the sole objective. Humans were only beginning to plumb the depths of cellular memory, but cellular and atomic memory were practically the foundation of Elder Science. Her success in Y’qaa, dependent as it had been with luck and coincidence, had been more about reuniting the two halves of the Elder Key than anything else. If she had not found both halves of the Key, Ubbo-Sathla would have gobbled her up in his ceaseless, churning hunger. She would have failed, pure and simple. She couldn’t even set aside the possibility that Haon-Dor hadn’t been a literary creation. The entire thing could have been set up by her father a hundred millennia before she was even born …but to what end?
She had no doubt it was her father who had made and divided the Key, but it served no function beyond igniting her racial memories. It had nothing to do with the magnetic bonds which kept the more destructive Old Ones and Elder Gods physically inert. She had gained vital insight into that subject, though it seemed ultimately useless. With the Black Stone, her father should still be able to reset the slowly deteriorating machinery of the celestial prison.
It took her a moment as she pulled herself up the seaweed strewn beach to recall that she had a piece of the Black Stone in her vault and that someone, possibly her sister, was killing people to find the others. She groaned and rested her forehead in the sand. Nothing was ever simple.
Shivering, she reached out to the storm around her and forced it to dissipate. By the time it stopped, she’d slogged her way to the road and begun walking towards Kingsport. Her clothes weighed a ton and the sand pasted to her face and arms itched. She could have turned off her senses as Phoenix once had, but she knew nothing so prosaic as exposure could kill her any more and she relished the sensation, even the discomfort. She reached out to him again, but he was back to his old irascible self.
A large jeep pulled up as she walked, and she barely looked up until one of the occupants rolled down a window. “Hey, are you alright?” someone asked, and she looked up to see three women staring at her.
“I fell in the water,” she mumbled, blinking at the women who looked as though they were either heading to or from vacation.
“Jesus,” said the one in the passenger seat. “You’re lucky to be alive. We had to pull off the road for a while there. We’re heading into Kingsport if we can give you a lift somewhere? At least it’s warm in the car.”
Mumbling thanks, she crawled into the backseat while the woman beside her turned and rifled through their bags for something dry and warm Glory was a little flummoxed to see that somehow her clothes had been changed back jeans and shirt, which was probably all to the good. She doubted they would have stopped for her if she’d been walking down the road in leather pants and a jerkin. She changed into the clothes they offered with a embarrassed thanks.
The woman whose clothes she was wearing insisted there was no need to repay her or return the clothes, and her good Samaritans left her in front of Cindy’s mother’s place a half hour later with little more than their first names. With her wet clothes folded under one arm, she rang the doorbell and stood shifting from foot to foot on the cold cement step. It was a real surprise for both of them when Father Chester answered the door.
“Who is it, hun?” called Cindy, peering in from the other room. She immediately blushed when she saw Glory. Chelsea joined her mother, waving at Glory with a big smile before her grandmother hustled her back into the kitchen.
“So you two are together now?” Glory asked.
“Um, well… “ It was Chester’s turn to blush as Cindy hurried to the door.
“Come in! You must be freezing.” Cindy hustled Glory inside, changing the subject by showing concern for her inappropriate clothing. “What happened to your shoes? Don’t you have a coat?!”
“Uh, it’s a long story. I hope I’m not intruding,” Glory said with a grin.
Chester quickly shook his head. “No, of course not,” Cindy replied, showing Glory to the sofa. “After all you did for us, you’re welcome any time. Do you want something to eat? I’m just clearing away dinner.”
“No, thanks… Um… could I ask what day it is?” They both gaped at her, and she felt a need to explain. If anyone would believe where she’d been… “I was… stuck in the Dreamlands for a while. I just came out in a portal in the bay, which is where my shoes and coat went.”
Cindy said, “You’re lucky you didn’t drown!” at the same time Chester said, “I knew there was a portal to the Dreamlands in the bay,” as if he’d argued with someone about it long ago and lost. She let out a sigh of relief when Cindy confirmed it was still the same day as when she had left and only a little over an hour later. Ann and the boys wouldn‘t have even noticed she was missing. Cindy went in search of shoes and a coat, and Glory didn’t bother telling her she’d didn’t really need the latter.
to Book 7, part 1, page 2