Rachel raised an eyebrow. “What’s going on now?”
Tara crossed her arms. “I noticed you weren’t listening earlier. Is it the same thing we talked about before?”
Rachel took a breath and sighed. Jaclyn pulled her feet out of the holes she’d created when she landed, and shook her head. “I knew that was going to come back to haunt us.”
Remembering how little I could hear during the fight, I said, “I told Hal to update you if he had something that needed action on our part. So far it hasn’t, but I could tell him to update you anyway?”
“Rocket,” Rachel said, looking me directly in the eyes, “this is something that we all need to be kept updated on.”
From the ground, Samita asked, “Is this something that I need to know about? I’m supposed to be mentoring Bloodmaiden, and I got the impression that she might be involved earlier.”
Rachel looked from where Samita lay to where Amy sat on the grass, both of them still covered in black goo. “Bloodmaiden’s in this too?”
“Not very in,” Amy said. “I helped ward his lab against fairies. That’s all.”
I was about to second Amy’s relative lack of involvement when I remembered our conversation about Adam and how Rod had noted his attachment to Unseelie Court. “We learned something really important at the game. I think we need to get everyone into my lab after the tournament and talk about this.”
“Your lab?” Rachel holstered her pistol. “It’s a little small. Are you sure we shouldn’t book the auditorium?”
Jaclyn laughed, and so did Amy.
Samita frowned, “Ghost, do you have any way to dissolve the glue? Or will we have to wait until it weakens on its own?”
Rachel turned around, checking the pouches on her utility belt. “Just a second, I’ll get you out.”
She pulled out the sprayer. The liquid inside would speed up the process of dissolution. Glancing at me she said, “After the tournament?”
“In the lab,” I said, and I wanted to say more, but even if I’d decided to chance it then I would have stopped almost instantly.
The grass had separated itself from the ground, standing up the way it ought to and revealing the sandy soil. At some point when we were talking, the reddish mist had evaporated.
As I realized that, I also realized that Travis and Rodolfo were walking over, accompanied by Mist-looking more like a human, and less like water vapor. If they weren’t enough, Meteor was walking up too—her fires now only a few licks of flame.
In addition to that, there was a new noise that seemed familiar. It sounded a little like rain.
I looked in the direction of the sound—which happened to be the stands. That’s when I realized that it was clapping and cheering, and that the announcer was talking in the background too.
“Congratulations to both teams. That was an excellent performance. Please clear the field so that it can be readied for the final match of the day.”
From the student stands, Lee (as Gunther) waved us in.
We walked toward the entrance, coming together in a group, and filing into the stands through the nearest opening in the stone wall.
Sean, Gordon, Stephanie, Blue Mask and Slugger sat together off to the left of the entrance—in the front row just like we did. They weren’t directly in front us, or even very close, so there wasn’t a chance to say anything, but I couldn’t help but notice them.
That’s who we were taking on next.
Gordon and Stephanie were talking quickly in low tones. Sean leaned forward, trying to catch the conversation while Blue Mask did the same from the other side. Slugger ignored them, choosing instead to smile and clap for us along with the rest of the audience.
When we did sit down, I found myself on the far end along with Amy, putting Tara between us and Rod and Samita. Rod had already changed back from troll form.
As plates of stone that I didn’t remember breaking started spontaneously repairing themselves, Tara caught everyone’s eyes and said, “Good job. We’ll be facing team one next. You might want to take a moment to remember what we planned to do when fighting them. We’ll talk more on the field.”
Lee gave both teams a wave, and said, “You’ll want to pay attention to this.”
That’s when I realized that the playing field hadn’t stopped at repairing the damage from the fight. Unlike before, when the field extended past the places where the flag was kept, walls now enclosed the sides as well as each end of the field.
Stranger, the walls on all the sides were curved.
I only wondered why they’d do that for a moment before the first stone ball started rolling around the edges of the field.
Soon after that I noticed that there wasn’t any grass on the playing field anymore. When the second ball entered, crossing the field, I realized that they could roll anywhere.
It wasn’t going to be as much of a problem for me since I could fly, but for the others’ sake, I hoped they had good healers available.