“Where are we going to go though?” David’s words were, Isabella thought, the most intelligent thing he’d said since they’d rappelled down the rope into Lezsátor’s Cave. It was just a shame that she really didn’t have an answer to that just yet. She looked around; beyond the stand of trees the fields were still in black and white, and there seemed to be nothing between them and the horizon. At least that meant that there were no teddybear packs in front of them close enough to have to worry about for the moment, but equally she wasn’t happy about being effectively trapped in a desaturated zone either. She wondered briefly about going back and returning to the cave where they’d entered this whole mess, but she knew that she’d have the devil’s own time of getting David to climb the rope with his fear of spiders, and, having seen the guards back on the human side, she wasn’t sure that they just hadn’t been lucky to get in as far as they had without being seen. She looked at the horizon and then back at the trees.
“That way,” she said. “Keep the trees at our back so we don’t start wandering off into circles. If you see anything, tell me. Don’t assume that I’ve seen it too.”
David scanned the horizon as well now. “You make it sound scary,” he said. “I saw the dead… body too, you know. Don’t you think I’m taking this seriously?”
“I’m not making any assumptions,” said Isabella. “And I’m telling you not to make any either.”
They walked on in silence, with Isabella walking as fast as she dared and David lagging behind her a little. When she looked back once, to check that the trees were still behind her and that David was keeping up he looked as though he was going to say something, but then he looked at her face – grim, determined – and appeared to change his mind.
Every five minutes, which was sooner than she knew she should be doing this, but she found it too hard to not know, she would take the Kris from its sheath and see if there were any doors nearby. Most of the time there weren’t, but then the blade caught on something and twisted slightly, and she cut deeper and peered through. Absolute darkness greeted her on the other side and she wasted no time in closing it up again. Whether it was a natural cave in the rock with no outlets or a guarded cave in the Leszátor’s cave complex, it wasn’t what she wanted right now.
They’d walked nearly another five minutes when David suddenly pointed off to their left and called out.
“Colour!” Isabella squinted, trying to decide if he was right or not, and after a few seconds thought that it did indeed look like green was creeping back into the world. She nodded and turned slightly so that their way forward would take them into the colour zone. Just as the grass genuinely became green again under their black-and-white feet she heard a whooping noise in the distance. She froze, and David stumbled as he tried to avoid colliding with her. She put an arm out to help him, and he waved it away.
“Listen,” she said. “That’s the hunt.”
“Teddybears hunt in packs, and that the noise they use to tell other packs where they are. It might tell them where they’re going too, it’s not like anyone’s studied it much.”
“So there’s a pack nearby?”
“At least one,” said Isabella. “There might be two and one’s just warning the other one off.”
“How do we tell?”
“I really hope we don’t.”
“Too late.” David pointed. As she turned there was a streak of colour and a sudden movement, and she saw a teddy-bear about eighty metres away racing across the field to a hillock that would provide it with cover.
“Oh holy crap,” she said, looking around them. Now that colour was returning the landscape was losing its flatness as well, but the trees were still in the distance, and now the lumps and bumps were just many places that could be concealing a teddybear.
“Can we go back through to the other side?” David sounded hopeful.
“I doubt it,” said Isabella, “I really do.”