"No, you go get her, Toby," Hannah replied.
Toby rolled his eyes.
Toby stood beside a plainly pregnant young woman with blue eyes and a tattoo across her neck that resembled the one on Deidre's back in color and otherworldly script.
"Mama, she's human," Toby said.
"Sorry, Toby," she said.
"I deserve it," Toby said with a pitiful sigh.
You've met Toby and my sister Hannah.
Hey, Toby, can you give her one?
"You can't just assign one because she's human," Toby said.
"A basement angel," Katie answered her before continuing with Toby.
"Yes, but she has to be screened and compatible," Toby said.
When she awoke, it was to find the face of the boy, Toby, hovering over hers.
"You have a tumor," Toby said, dismayed.
Deidre glanced at Toby.
Toby's face lit up.
"You fell totally in love with him, too, but you were uh … well, I guess deities are sort of…" "You were a mega-bitch," Toby said.
"Then you dumped him," Toby continued.
And Rhyn and Kris and Kiki, Toby said cheerfully.
That's how I found out you really did love Gabe, even though you um …" "Crushed his will to live," Toby finished.
"It's because he was originally human," Toby said.
Katie glanced at Toby.
"He's hated you that long, too," Toby said.
Katie was glaring at Toby, who grinned.
She liked Katie and Toby.
"We can give you an angel," Toby relented.
Toby is a guardian angel.
Toby, what do the angel memories say about it?
It's kinda cool, except that Toby isn't old enough to research everything yet.
"I can't find anything," Toby said, upset.
Hurrying through the brightest doorway, she recognized the massive bedchamber where she'd left Katie and Toby.
Wynn, Katie and Toby.
Toby's mouth was agape, Katie's face blanching.
Toby was too shocked to move, while Katie scrambled to her feet.
"Dead-dead," Toby managed.
Toby stood slowly and moved towards the door.
Deidre watched Toby lead Wynn to the door and out.
"Katie and Toby told me what they knew," she replied.
Toby's description of her as a mega-bitch was sounding more and more accurate.
Toby said they need homes.
She listened to his rant, peppered with language no kid Toby's age should hear.
Officer David waved a piece of paper in her face depicting Toby's ID.
Toby was quiet, and she snatched the paper, intent on showing him their addresses were different.
Toby's address was listed as hers.
Toby, is this your mommy?
Toby took her hand.
Whatever this place was, she --and probably Toby --were better off somewhere else.
Toby was agitated and shivering, skipping up and down the sidewalk while shaking with cold.
Toby's pattering stopped, and she looked up, startled to see a massive man a few feet away.
"Toby," she called instinctively.
Toby, you can come with me.
"You're early," Toby said, unafraid.
A door opened, and Toby vaulted in without waiting for her.
Toby called from the interior of the warm car.
Katie instinctively believed her and twisted, staring with Toby at the man in black who watched them drive away.
Instead she looked again to Toby, who'd begun to mess with the buttons on his side of the car.
Toby darted out of the car and shoved the door to the lobby open with all his might.
She trailed, even more perplexed when the janitor waxing the floor called out a cheerful, "Hey, Toby!"
Toby held the elevator for her and pressed the button for all twenty floors.
Toby bolted to the first room on the right, the guest bedroom.
She took it all in, feeling as if she'd stepped into the Twilight Zone, and followed Toby down the hall.
Head pulsing, she retreated to the kitchen and painkillers, staring at a picture drawn by a kid, probably Toby, on the table before her.
She'd never met Toby before this day!
Is Toby still sick?
You probably did something stupid like leave Toby on the train.
"But how is it I remember being alone getting on the train, and Toby got on at the next stop?" she challenged.
Toby hopped up from his chair and waved to the nurse.
Like one of Toby's drawings on the fridge.
The nurse dropped her and Toby off, and they trudged to her apartment.
Toby had drawn him on black construction paper with silver glitter outlining the shape of a man.
Death dealer, Toby had called him.
Toby dropped his coat in
There were biographical forms and consent forms she hadn't really read, all signed in a loopy, angry signature, and a copy of Toby's birth certificate.
Toby's birth certificate listed her as the mother, no father, and the naval hospital in Annapolis as his birthplace.
The paperwork otherwise had nothing to do with Toby or their accusation that she abandoned her kid on the Metro.
Toby took her hand in one of his, with his other fist wrapped around a large marshmallow.
"He's a death dealer," Toby said with impatience.
Toby chattered, his tone lifting in a question that didn't penetrate the in-between world in which she'd fallen.
His sweater, jeans, and trench coat were all of high quality with his heavy boots dwarfing her feet as hers did Toby's.
Toby started into the living room, spilled the cocoa, and then retreated to the kitchen.
She heard Toby's chipper voice as he invited the death dealer to share some cocoa with him.
Toby was showing him the glitter drawing he'd done.
Toby squealed again and bounced to his feet, beginning a whirling dance.
Toby laughed and whirled.
"You weren't supposed to remember anything before Toby appeared in your life," he said.
Sasha wants her as much as Toby.
"Two for the girl watching Toby, in case you're right, and someone else grabs her," he said.
Just when she thought things were weird enough, Toby had started to talk to her.
Toby chewed on the crackers she'd placed before him, crumbs and chunks going all over his pj's.
"Toby says you're going to kill me," she said, heart hammering.
"Gabriel takes people to the underworld, body and all," Toby explained as he grasped the large man's gloved hand.
"Do Gabriel and Toby work for you?" she asked.
And Toby, the baby…angel?
Two, someone in our organization knew what she was when they set her up to be Toby's human guardian.
Check on Toby while you're there.
She'd dared to hope again that everything was a hallucination brought on by too much alcohol, until Toby burst in chasing a cat she didn't remember owning.
Despite Hannah's criticisms, she would still rather be here than at her apartment, even knowing Hannah would never believe her story about Toby and the death dealer.
Just like their four-hour trip to the spa, the wardrobe Hannah bought Toby, the jewelry they both wore.
Take Toby and the damn death guy and leave me the hell alone.
You will send me home, and you'll remove Toby, Gabriel, and every other interference you placed in my life, down to the scuff marks in the hallway, which I know
When we placed Toby with you, we altered the minds of those in your immediate family circle.
She imagined he went to her apartment to check on Toby and was struck by her longing to return to the tiny, cluttered mess of a life that was hers.
Toby's been staying with us.
When she got home, she was kicking Toby out, buying a gun, and taking back her life.
Damn you, Toby for ruining my life, and Gabriel and Ully and Andre…
Toby clambered up beside her, spilling the juice.
Irritated, she would've ignored it if not for Toby, who snatched it in excitement.
Toby yelled into the phone.
Toby called, holding out the phone.
Toby said you've been under the weather.
"Gabriel said --" Toby started.
"He's not in the closet," Toby said, then laughed.
"Toby, you.re too old to be sleeping in my bed," she said.
Gabriel was gone and Toby still sleeping.
"Take care of Toby and Rhyn," he said, and stood.
Toby laughed and tossed Rhyn another pillow, delighted when he snatched it from midair and shredded it in an explosion of white feathers.
Reining in her emotions, she tried to distract her dark thoughts by focusing on Toby.
"From our neighbors," Toby said.
"I.ll get more pillows," Toby said.
Toby giggled, and she glanced at him, afraid Rhyn was going to dive headfirst into a discussion Toby shouldn.t hear.
C.mon, Toby, Katie said and turned away, allowing Toby to pull her down the hall to the dining chamber, which had yet to fill up.
Despite his irritation, he.d been as patient with Toby as a half-demon could be.
Toby had fallen asleep in front of the fireplace.
He rose and crossed to Toby, looping his arm around the baby angel and resting him on his hip.
From behind him, Toby tore out of the castle in a snowsuit.
Toby said in excitement.
Toby began to panic and pull, and the jaguar lowered itself farther to the ground, planting its back legs and jerking the boy towards the forest.
She dropped on one knee beside Toby, who was unconscious.
Toby rolled from her arms.
She crawled on her knees to Toby, heart hammering and hands shaking as she rolled him onto his back.
Rhyn.s mind went to Toby, the baby angel he.d amused by shredding pillows.
Toby was in Kris.s bed, the pale baby angel stripped down to his waist and unconscious.
It.s my fault Toby was wandering around without someone watching him, but really, Kris, who assigns a woman an Immortal kid that.s not even her own and expects her to know what to do with it?
"Toby needs a healer," Ully said from the bedside.
Without Gabriel, Toby had no one but her.
Sasha.s gaze took them both in, his eyes settling on her bandaged arm before he forced himself to look at Toby.
Toby and I have been attacked by demons, and Sasha.s wandering around the castle like he owns the place.
Besides, the bond between angel and human cannot be broken, so you.ll have to take care of Toby until you die.
"Do you think Toby is okay to move?" she asked, afraid to be there when Kris returned.
She visited the small café and dropped three boxed lunches into a tote bag along with extra cocoa and marshmallows in case Toby woke up soon.
His gaze finally fell to Toby, and he inched forward.
As she thought of Toby, she wondered how much of what Kris said was true.
She returned to her chamber, where Lankha still worked his magic on an unconscious Toby under Ully.s watchful gaze.
I have to check on Toby, she said and moved past him before she changed her mind.
What happened to Toby wasn.t your fault.
She pushed the door open to her room and gazed at Toby.
No. I was distracted by Toby.
"How.s Toby?" she asked, gaze going to the bed.
Her eyes went to Toby.
"Toby," Katie said, crossing to the bed.
She and Toby had to leave.
When Toby was better, she.d take him and go.
I just wanted to check on Toby.
She entered the bedroom quietly to see Toby awake and trying to get an uncertain Lankha to play with his stuffed animals.
Toby would make an awesome older brother, she realized, unlike her flaky sister.
She whirled to face him, moving too slow to hide the suitcase laid out on the trunk at the end of the bed in which Toby slept.
I.ve got Toby to think about, and raising him where he.s attacked by demons and subjected to the stupidity of the Immortal world—it.s not happening.
Katie, take Toby and the healer to the basement with the warriors.
She hurried to Toby and lifted the sleeping angel carefully before she and Lankha left.
She hadn.t been talking about Toby.
Toby was awake and sitting, fascinated by Lankha.s soft hands.
Hannah dropped to the floor beside her, and Lankha inched away while Toby smiled.
Lankha, pick up Toby.
Lankha was nearly buckling under the weight of Toby.
Lankha set Toby down on one before they joined Hannah in the courtyard.
Katie jerked awake from the latest one where she and Toby were running from the unseen demon down a sandy beach.
The creaky bed protested as she sat, and she tried hard not to make more noise and wake Toby.
She opened her door and glanced over at Toby then did a double-take.
The youth sitting on Toby.s bed wasn.t Toby.
"Toby, Mama," he said with a snicker.
"A hungry man," Toby added.
As if unaccustomed to his longer legs, Toby tripped twice on his way to the door, stabilized himself, then started forward more cautiously.
I feel like I should take my sister and Toby with me.
She vaguely recognized the other three and knelt beside the statue of Rhyn, who was no older than Toby had been the day before.
You take great precautions to safeguard Toby, and yet, you rejected your own brother?
I.m sworn to protect Toby, and I.ve done my duty in protecting Sasha, who is also my brother, according to the Code and the oaths I swore to my father and the Council!
Toby had tons of them in his small bedchamber off hers.
She retrieved it and hugged it, not at all certain what the new Toby would and wouldn.t want that the old Toby had loved.
Did Toby make it safely?
You.re here to watch over Toby, as usual?
Good place for her, Toby, and the hatchling.
I left her outside the walls because I didn.t want Toby to see.
Daniela, go get a room ready for Iliana and send Toby and Hannah to the cafeteria.
Fine. I.ll send Toby out to check on you.
You were her mate, and Toby was hers.
He heard the angel, Toby, drop beside him, the glow of his Nintendo 3DS bright in the night.
As one of Rhyn's buffers, Toby was as trapped on the beach as he was.
"It's gotta hurt," Toby said.
Toby sighed loudly and turned off the glowing 3DS.
"You could kidnap us both and take us wherever you want to go," Toby offered.
Did you ask him, Toby?
"He said no, like you said," Toby said, disappointment heavy in his voice.
Toby went without another word, and Rhyn drew a deep breath to settle his emotions.
Then he said, "I'll tell Toby to leave you alone so you can get some sleep tonight."
The dream seemed so short, but the sky had begun to lighten on the horizon. The dream faded as he sat up. Toby stood nearby, his young face solemn.
"You can't leave me here," Toby said, running to keep up.
Rhyn ignored Hannah's approach, and Toby shuffled his feet.
Kris frowned and opened his mouth to speak when Toby gave an exasperated sigh.
Hannah looked less than pleased, but Toby's face brightened.
Hannah took his and one of Toby's hands, and Toby slid his small hand into Rhyn's.
Toby's hand was all that felt real after the past three days.
He released Toby's hand.
His plan of blowing up everything hadn't included an innocent like Toby being hurt.
"Toby!" he shouted, furious at the angel.
"Toby," he managed. "He went through the portal."
Toby went before we could stop him.
And I forbid you from killing Toby! He's annoying and mouthy, but he's just a boy. Or an angel or something.
Find Toby, she said.
"Find Toby, blow myself up," he said.
She had no idea how to be a single mother in the real world, let alone in a world as unforgiving as the Immortal one. She'd proven she couldn't raise Toby without a bottle of vodka permanently glued to her hand. Rhyn had been exiled for his mixed origins, and she'd never been especially welcomed by anyone but Gabe and Toby. If something happened to Rhyn or if she couldn't leave here … Panicking made her already surging hormones worse. She felt nauseous.
Toby emerged from the early morning shadows of the forest.
Toby shrugged and then shivered.
"I'm cold," Toby complained.
He stalked off into the forest, away from the castle and cliff. Toby clambered through the brush and trees after him, the angel's footsteps loud where Rhyn's were silent. Rhyn found a deer path and followed it until he reached a snowy meadow. Crossing it, he continued to look for a place to stash the angel where the kid wouldn't freeze to death. After another hour of walking, he found a small pocket in the roots of a massive tree.
Toby asked as they stopped.
The angel looked up at him doubtfully then picked his way across roots to the pocket in the tree trunk. Rhyn scavenged for what dry wood he could find and took the armful back to the tree. Toby was huddled in the small cave, shaking with cold.
"Ever skin a demon?" he asked Toby.
But I'm feeling sleepy now, Toby said suddenly in a rushed tone.
"There's Toby," she said.
He ascended two floors to the hallway where Kris's supplies had been stocked. He recalled how hard it could be taking care of a helpless creature like Katie or Toby. He strode to the chamber that had served as a department store full of clothing to Kris's Immortals. Not surprised to find the chamber ransacked, he sifted through the remaining clothing on the floor. He guessed Toby's size and stuffed a bag with a few items before going to the food supplies.
"I tried," Toby chattered.
Rhyn started the fire again and sat beside Toby. He handed him the bag of clothing and food. Toby withdrew the clothing skeptically.
"The coat is pink and there are purple hearts on the sweater," Toby said.
"Can't open it," Toby said.
They were mean to Mama, Toby said.
Toby asked and rolled his eyes.
"Probably stuck in the Immortal underworld," Toby said with a shrug.
Toby snorted a laugh.
"But I'm not done –" Rhyn snatched the open can of food and flung it into the forest. Toby stared at him then took his pink coat and crawled deeper into the little cave. Rhyn stretched out on his back next to the fire, his mind puzzling over the angel's words. However much he tried to focus on what it was Death had agreed to, he couldn't escape his mixed emotions or one errant thought.
Toby's backpack was there along with his pink coat. Rhyn straightened, angry at himself for not hearing the boy leave. A flash of purple caught his eye through the trees, and he loped through the forest.
What do you want with Toby?
You don't bring something food and clothing if you don't care if it dies. If you want it – Toby - to live, come to the castle this evening after dark falls. We have matters to discuss. Bring Kris. If you want the angel to die then stay right here.
I need help rescuing Toby from Darkyn.
Rhyn crossed his arms, irritated. Kiki trotted from the patio into the house perched on a hill overlooking Tokyo. He returned ten minutes later with a small briefcase, a jacket and a hard case for his iPad. Rhyn opened the portal, and the two strode through it, back to the massive tree where Rhyn had lost Toby in the cold, wet French Alps.
Rhyn yanked the dart free and looked from it to the small welt forming on his arm. It matched the welt on his other arm. He gazed at his other arm for a long moment then strode to Toby's bag. Snatching it, he unzipped it and dumped its contents onto the ground. Alongside Toby's 3DS, a pair of clean underwear and socks, and gamers magazine was a small shaving bag. Rhyn opened it, surprised to find a syringe and two small bottles, one empty and one filled with wine-colored solution.
Toby huddled against the black stone wall of his cell in Hell.
"I don't like it here," Toby said.
Toby frowned, worried as much about his human charge as his Immortal friends.
It's not your fault, Toby.
Toby was silent, knowing a normal Immortal could never understand. He didn't yet have the full power of a real guardian angel, but he should've been able to do more than … nothing. Angels were placed with human mothers so they could understand the creatures they were meant to take care of. Human mothers raised them as their own, yet none of his human mothers had gone to the extent Katie did to try to protect him.
Toby looked up as the familiar demon named Jared passed his cell, trailed by two demons carrying a body with another familiar face.
"I remember you," Toby said.
"That doesn't sound right," Toby said.
"He can't leave, Toby," Ully added.
"Ully has skunk blood, and I'm an angel. You'd gag to death first," Toby said and giggled at the look that crossed the demon's face.
"I'm not a normal Immortal," Toby cried.
He hadn't left them, and Toby's hopes rose again.
"I can take me and Ully and you and Gabe," Toby replied.
Gabriel's furious curse made Toby jump. Toby looked his direction the best he could through the bars of his cell and saw the walls around the dark cell shake.
Toby asked, listening with increasing panic.
"Calm down, Toby," the death-dealer said.
Toby's heart somersaulted in his breast, and he tried hard to reach the depths of the powers that would be his when he was just a little older.
"We'll think of something, Toby," the mad scientist said.
Rhyn grunted and rolled onto his stomach. The stone floor beneath him was cool but not cool enough to soothe the hot fury of his magic. The effects of whatever Toby had injected into him were almost gone.
Toby. The angel needed him.
You have to let Toby go.
Rhyn's gone ape-shit crazy and decided to kill Death. Toby's in Hell, and Darkyn is planning something big, but I don't know what.
One, Rhyn can get us into Hell, where Toby is. Two, I'd rather not piss of Death.
If you can't do it for Rhyn, do it for Toby.
Kiki thinks this is the only way we'll get Toby back, too.
What did Rhyn do to Toby?
Let him get snatched by Darkyn. I guess Toby is in Hell.
Will you promise to protect Hannah, Toby and everyone else, even if it means losing me?
I guess he can take better care of himself than Toby, she said.
Have you found Toby yet?
Toby's gleeful shout jarred him.
Rhyn stopped in front of Toby's cell and saw the young angel bouncing around.
"Oh, thank gods," Ully said from the cell across from Toby.
Toby's right. She found a loophole. As long as Death doesn't find her and we can get her back to a Sanctuary, she'll live.
"Ully, Toby, you're staying here until we get back," Rhyn said.
"Rhyn, I can help you," Toby pleaded.
Toby's voice was a whisper.
"I'm saying, the mate of an Ancient or any Immortal is preordained. No one can break that bond, not even Death," Toby answered.
"But since no one ever listens to me and I've failed at my duty as a guardian – " "Stop whining, Toby," Rhyn snapped.
If Toby can't find that answer, it's not something any of the angels know. Or he's too young to tap into it fully.
"I know I'm a failure," Toby said, blinking back tears.
Toby, Darkyn, and Death knew about the seven days. He felt a flutter of hope where he'd felt desperation before. In seven days, his bond to Katie would return.
Toby asked, pressing his face against the cell door.
"Rhyn, don't leave me here," Toby said again.
Jared, move Hannah in with Toby.
Rhyn left the cell block to Toby's protests and walked with Gabe through the antechamber and into the hallway on the other side. Gabe's gaze was dark, his air brooding. Rhyn opened a portal, and they crossed through to Gabe's cabin in the underworld.
In Hell, Hannah had been crying since Toby started to tell her the truth.
From there, things had gone downhill, and Toby no longer knew what to say.
Hannah demanded, looking up at Toby through tear-swollen eyes.
Baffled, Toby shrugged and moved to the bars of his cell, looking to Ully for help. Ully rolled his eyes.
"Rhyn's coming back," Toby said helplessly.
Toby felt almost as distraught at having to stay in the cell while his human was lost in the underworld. Not that he didn't trust Rhyn or Gabe, just that, he might be able to find her first.
"Hey, Toby," Ully said in a quieter voice.
As Toby watched, Ully stuck his hand out of the cell and placed it on the wall.
His cell door clicked open. Toby bounced to his feet.
Toby held his breath as Ully disappeared through the door to where Jared sat. When the mad scientist wasn't sent sailing back through the door, Toby sat down to put on his shoes.
Ully returned a couple of minutes later. He strode to Toby's cell and dangled the talisman before it. Toby's door opened.
Toby stepped out of the cell and closed it.
If you don't return… Toby shuddered, and Ully's step quickened.
Toby closed his eyes, focusing hard on searching the memories of all the angels that came before him.
Ully obeyed. They crept through the hallways, avoiding any that seemed crowded. Toby followed the directions he saw in his memories and led them to a small chamber near the center of the fortress. They entered and closed the door, seeing the open portal hovering in the middle. He took Ully's hand, and they stepped into it.
Toby asked as they walked towards a glowing portal.
"Not yet," Toby said with a sigh.
Toby darted into the jungle, knowing they had little time, and that he had to find his human before anything else bad happened to her. He didn't know where the demon with her wanted to take her, but he knew where anyone leaving the underworld would go to escape.
Ully called. Toby slowed until he caught up then darted ahead again.
"Ow," Toby muttered. Ully's fingers dug into his shoulder. The Immortal didn't look as if he had that amount of strength in him.
"But if Death already has her, then –" "Then it's too late. We have to go this way," Toby said and pulled away.
Toby didn't answer, unwilling to admit just how much Ully's words stung. He led them deeper into the jungle. The branches hurried to create a path for him, and he smiled at them. According to his angel memories, the trees were more than trees in Death's underworld. They were alive.
Ully was dropped to the ground at Toby's command. He hurried back to the Immortal, worried he'd be hurt. Ully was unconscious.
Toby asked the trees.
The branches around him darted around then fell still, as if watching. Toby knelt beside Ully and grunted as he rolled the Immortal onto his back. Disappointed to have their journey paused already, he looked around then back at Ully.
Toby gasped as the branch picked him up then waited.
"Up, above the tree line," Toby said, stretching towards the next one.
The branch obliged him and passed him upwards to another, which stretched him as far up as it could reach. Then dropped him. Toby yelped as he fell. Another branch caught him and lifted him upwards again.
Toby clutched it and twisted in the branch's grip, until he could see the dark storm clouds moving slowly across the sky.
"Down, tree," Toby ordered.
Toby stood and dusted himself off then hauled Ully up by his arm.
Don't worry about it, Toby.
Really, it's fine Toby.
"Though I think if trees didn't like humans, Mama would be dead, and if they didn't like Immortals, Gabe couldn't stay here either," Toby reasoned.
That's not funny, Toby.
Ully's face was graver than Toby had seen it, and his wiry body was tense.
Toby shook his head and started forward again, wondering when Ully had lost his sense of humor. He led them in the direction where he sensed Katie, until night and clouds rendered the jungle too dark.
"It's just rain, Ully. I know where we're going," Toby said.
Ully cursed as he moved to seek cover from the downpour. Safe beneath his jungle roof, Toby watched him. The brave, cheerful Ully that sat with him in Hell seemed lost in the underworld, and Toby began to suspect there was another reason their jailer, Jared, had freed them.
Unable to sleep without knowing the truth, Toby huddled beneath the jungle leaves and stretched his senses until he found Katie. He couldn't put her in more danger, if there was something wrong with Ully. She was close enough for him to find when he needed to. If he kept some distance between him and Katie, he could figure out what was wrong with Ully without endangering her more.
He knelt on the ground and closed his eyes, seeking out the writhing darkness of his demon side. If the demons had the power to transform and fly, he could access his demon powers, too, even if the Immortal side of him was bound by Death's underworld. "Berries," Toby commanded the tree before him.
The tree obliged and lowered one of the low hanging branches to Toby's level. He plucked a few of the red, tart berries and popped them in his mouth.
Toby hunched his shoulders. He'd wandered far enough away from camp that he'd hoped to get some food before running from Ully, who was still sleeping.
"Angel memories. This is where old angels go before they die," Toby said.
It now made sense how Ully had been able to free them and talk Jared into letting them go. Toby had been too excited to find their escape too easy at the time, but now, he realized it was … weird. He'd failed again. He couldn't even escape on his own.
Thunder cracked overhead, and Toby looked up. Ully ran into him as the angel stopped, and they both stared at the sky. He thought he saw something in the sky, but the trees blocked it.
"I want to see what it is," Toby said.
The tree lowered a branch to him, and he wrapped his arms around it. It was warm and writhing, and one small branch wrapped around him to keep him secure as it shifted him upwards. Toby broke through the treetops and gasped.
The branch lowered him so fast, his stomach turned. Toby scampered off the branch and stared upwards, wondering how Death could allow the demons into her domain. He looked around wildly, expecting them to leap from his surroundings.
The Ully-demon launched towards him. The tree snatched Toby and lifted him to safety, and Toby dangled far enough over Ully's head that the demon couldn't reach him. As he watched, the Ully-demon transformed into its natural form, a creature of wings, talons, and teeth longer than Toby's fingers.
Toby whispered, clawing at the tree as the demon shook out his wings.
Katie was close. Toby could sense her. He ignored the branches whipping his face and the brambles tripping him. Instead, he just ran, the screams of demons in his ears.
"Toby," Katie said again, stepping forward. Her eyes went to his hands. He didn't have demon hands.
Toby, what're you doing here?
Toby's voice rose in panic.
"Something's wrong," Toby said.
Hannah? Is she okay, Toby?
The trees overhead rustled, and Toby yanked away, staring. Katie saw shadows but nothing else. Even so, she doubted these were the freaky underworld birds.
"C'mon," she said, snatching Toby's hand.
Follow me, Toby said. He cast another puzzled look at Deidre and ran forward.
Go! Run with Toby!
Toby hauled Katie up and tugged her forward. Katie pulled free and grabbed Deidre just as the earth beneath her collapsed. Katie slammed to the ground, holding Deidre as tightly as she could.
The angel ignored her and dropped beside her, wringing his hands helplessly. The blond woman dangled over the widening chasm, clutching Katie's hand. She braced her feet against the side of the chasm and walked upward, until Toby could grab her belt. The angel pulled hard, and Katie pushed Deidre on top of the angel, who yelped.
Deidre and Toby stood. Katie started forward, only for the rumbling ground to drive her to her knees. Horrified, she saw the chasm form a rough circle around them, trapping them on a small island surrounded by football field wide trees and chasms too wide to jump.
"So that's what happens when you feed the trees," Toby said in part wonder, part horror. "I'm glad I didn't try it."
"You should be grateful Katie didn't let your slow ass fall," Toby said.
Toby rolled his eyes in response and crossed his arms. Katie shook her head. The angel was visibly upset and completely disheveled. She softened, sensing his distress.
"It's ok, Toby. You're doing better than I am," she offered.
Toby complained at last.
Toby sighed loudly and stepped away from her.
"This way," Toby said and started into the jungle.
Toby called over his shoulder.
Toby was wrestling with a bush and didn't respond. Katie breathed deeply and pushed forward, wanting very much to stop and sleep but suspecting she'd never awaken if she did. She didn't have enough food cubes to drive off more than one more demon attack. They'd have to find Rhyn and Gabe fast.
She's with Ully and Toby. They're fine.
Death was right. Kris didn't have what it took to keep the Council together. He may have just lost one of his brothers, because he lost focus of what he should've done. Maybe he should've known Jade was a traitor or Hannah was a demon. He hadn't known of Andre's danger or been able to bring the Council together to fight the demons that threatened them all. He hadn't been able to keep Hannah safe or Toby or Katie.
It sounded like a herd of horses plowing through the jungle. "Demons," Toby said.
"I told you there were – " "Not now, Toby," Katie said.
Helpless until the trees finished flinging them around, Katie struggled to grab the branches, so she didn't end up like Deidre. Finally, a branch wrapped around her and pulled her through the canopy, dumping her at the edge of the jungle. Toby landed with a grunt beside her, and she lay still to catch her breath, still hoping Deidre reappeared.
"Deidre's okay," Toby said.
She stood on wobbly legs and all but dragged Toby to his feet.
Katie sought an entrance into the palatial estate, not seeing one along this side. She ran alongside the marble structure. It was well over quarter mile in length. Toby pulled away from her suddenly, and she stopped so fast, she tripped.
"Dammit, Toby, come on!" she yelled.
She pulled, and he ran. Katie felt the ground shake beneath them as the demons pursued. Several flew overhead and dropped directly in their path. She stopped and shoved Toby behind her, drawing the knife Gabe had given her. Before long, they were surrounded.
"Toby!" a male voice yelled.
Toby tugged at her arm.
Katie tore her eyes away from Gabe to follow where Toby was pointing, hoping to see Rhyn. It wasn't Rhyn or anyone else she expected to see, and she gasped.
"She's pissed," Toby said and sank behind Katie.
Katie turned away and snatched Toby's hand. They approached the demons tentatively, waiting for the quiet creatures to attack rather than move. As if under a trance, the demons moved away in synchronized steps.
Toby took the lead, and the demons, Death and Gabe disappeared as Katie rounded the corner of the palace. The angel released her and raced into the palace and up a set of stairs. They ascended several floors, until Katie was sucking wind bad enough to stop. Toby didn't wait for her, and she stumbled forward. The interior of the palace was unlit, and the darkness of evening crept into the hallways.
She stopped, but Toby yanked her forward.
"Mama, if Death –" "If Death what, Toby?"
Toby mumbled. Katie made out the words dead-dead and underworld.
Toby, I could've done that yesterday.
Ever, Toby said, his eyes watering.
"But I won't," Death added. "You have a lot to learn, Toby, but you've done the best you can. It wouldn't have been enough, if there weren't other issues, but you got lucky. Sometimes, that's half of what Fate is."
"I'm proud of you, Toby," Katie said, seeing the look that crossed Toby's face.
"I'm twelve," Toby said miserably.
She looked from Toby to Death.
I don't have much time. Toby, take her to the portal.
Toby gasped. Realization broke over Katie and with it, joy. She flung her arms around Deidre and hugged the small woman tightly.
Toby cried in shock and pried her away.
"That's between him and Death," Toby said.
"He has a better chance of making it if you're not here," Toby said.
Death lowered the hand displaying the end of the world scenario. The images of Gabe fighting demons switched to those of Katie on the beach under the moonlight. Rhyn's breath caught at the sight of her. She appeared exhausted, tattered, and drenched from the underworld rain. She'd never looked as beautiful as she did, even if she looked as if she'd just left the underworld. Toby was with her, pulling her from the beach towards the Sanctuary.
"I told you that you needed me," Toby grumbled.
Toby looked at the unconscious Immortal twice his size and back up at Rhyn.
Rhyn ignored the demon and left the cell block, returning to the hallway before opening a portal. He crossed through the shadow world to the beach of the Caribbean Sanctuary. Toby was dragging Kiki up the beach by one leg.
Toby dropped Kiki's leg and took off for the Sanctuary. Rhyn strode through the loose sand of the beach and paused beside Kiki. He set Hannah down.
The woman pursed her lips and crossed her arms, eyeing him. "I'll get him," Toby shouted from across the courtyard.
"Toby. Get Hannah," Rhyn barked.
"Toby brought me back," she pointed out.
I hope she comes out better behaved than Toby.
Katie and Toby will be glad to see you, and you can scare the shit out of Tamer. It'll be fun.
Toby, and on the E.
Toby Edward Rosenthal >>
Bordering on the lowlands of the Connecticut, Mt Tom (1214 ft.) and a few other hills (Mt Holyoke, 954 ft.; Mt Toby, 1275) form conspicuous landmarks.
Mount Toby conglomerate.
He Is Best Known As A Humorist, And As A Humorist He Ranks With The Creators Of " My Uncle Toby " And " Pickwick."
The familiarity thus acquired with military life and character stood Sterne in good stead when he drew the portraits of Uncle Toby and Corporal Trim.
By the beginning of August 1760 he had another volume written, and was so "delighted with Uncle Toby's imaginary character that he was become an enthusiast."
begins the longpromised story of Uncle Toby's amours with the Widow Wadman.
The ninth and last and shortest volume of Tristram, concluding the episode of Toby Shandy's amours, appeared in 1767.
In Toby Shandy he has drawn a character universally lovable and admirable; but Walter Shandy is almost greater as an artistic triumph, considering the difficulty of the achievement.
This is where the Immortals live, Toby replied.
"Immortal Code," Toby said.
"Once upon a time, you were an Immortal â€“" "-deity," Toby corrected.
"You fell totally in love with him, too, but you were uh â€¦ well, I guess deities are sort ofâ€¦" "You were a mega-bitch," Toby said.
That's how I found out you really did love Gabe, even though you um â€¦" "Crushed his will to live," Toby finished.
"You hated that part of him, so you tortured him for like â€“" "Toby!"
"Immortal mood beast," Toby muttered under his breath.
"She has a brain tumor," Toby said.
"Not any Immortal," Toby said.
"â€¦and this is your portal into the shadow world," Toby said proudly, indicating a blob of silver on one side of the drawing.
And Toby, the babyâ€¦angel?
I even remember Toby, the Masquerade, and some guy snatching me when the lights went down.
Damn you, Toby for ruining my life, and Gabriel and Ully and Andreâ€¦
Katie glared at Toby at the skeptical note in Hannah's voice.
"It.s not Toby or Rhyn, is it?" she ventured.