Tin Man: Dragons and Ninjas

Chapter Six

"You have got to show me how to make those," Jeb glanced at DG.

"Molotov cocktails."

"Molotov cocktails," Jeb finished turning to Zack. Cain shook his head. He should have known his son would be won over by exploding devices.

"I don't have a problem teaching you. But they're not always reliable."

Jeb waved the concern away. "Everything's a potential weapon. Besides, we don't have supply drops from the rest of the Army in the wilderness."

"The Army is closer now." Glitch leaned his elbows on the table. "Lord Gayelette agreed to garrison the Second Division in his fortress."

Cain let the conversation flow around the table in the mess hall tent without participating. DG wasn't her usual exuberant self. He wished how she seemed could all be chalked up to exhaustion. Raw hadn't taken his worried eyes off of her during the meal; hell, since her magic leak in the forest.

DG stood up. "This is fun, guys, but I'm about to pass out at the table. So good-night." Cain shoved his chair back to stand, but she gestured for him to stay seated. "Visit with Jeb; I can find my tent without an escort."

Glitch nodded his head behind DG's back. "I'll walk with you. I'm ready to see how comfortable army cots are."

"I'll go too." Zack pushed his chair under the table. "You can show me your flashlight spell."

Raw nodded at Cain. He made no move to follow the group. Cain did as far as the doorway. He returned to the table when Glitch and Zack had DG out of earshot.

"Dad, what's wrong with her?"

"I'm hoping Furball can help us with that."

Raw squirmed. "Not fair to ask, Cain. Rules."

He winced. "Only because it's DG, Raw. Otherwise, I wouldn't."

"Not a full reading. DG shields herself." The Viewer sighed. "She nearly lost in dark places. She feels failure for everything. She saves us from her failure by going to the dark places."

"We should have never let her go into that cave alone. Damn Tutor."

"Cave only part of it. Used to be going back to the Other Side. Less of that now. More of the dark road."

"I've never heard of a dark road." Jeb's hazel eyes looked confused.

Raw tugged on his beard. "Self sacrifice. Today when her magic got too strong, she had image of being in the cave and pulling rocks down."

"Suicide? DG?" Cain's mouth fell open.

"DG listens to you. Comes out of the dark places for you."

"Did you miss the part today when she called me an ungrateful bastard and wanted to tear my head off?"

"Different from old DG how?" Cain didn't have an answer for that. "DG stays in the O.Z. for guilt. Needs a better reason."

"But the O.Z. is her home," Jeb said. "Her family is here."

"Glitch told Cain?"

"Yeah, and so did DG." His jaw worked. "I know there were times I questioned her parents' judgment when we were helping her find the Emerald, but I figured the witch was bad enough to justify it. But now?"

"They don't know how to love DG." Raw clasped Cain's shoulder on his way to the door. "Cain does better by Jeb."

Cain felt his ears burn. Jeb smirked, "It's okay, Dad. I had figured that out already."

He grunted and dug the papers from one of the pouches on his gun belt. "Here. DG liberated these from the Longcoat camp. Maybe they'll make sense to you or one of your men."

Jeb unfolded them. "Do you think they've been affected by magic? Those marks don't even look like a language."

"Ask DG in the morning. Maybe she can sense it."

"Speaking of asking DG." Jeb set a jewelry box on the table in front of Cain. "You left those behind on your last visit."

"You and Glitch…." Cain gritted his teeth, unable to finish that sentence coherently.

"Want the best for you and DG." Jeb crossed his arms. "You need her and she needs you."

He snatched up the box and hid it in his duster's pocket. "She already feels responsible for the mess the whole Outer Zone is in, and you want me to add to that. I can't."

"Dad." Worry lined Jeb's face. "She doesn't love the O.Z. Give her a reason to."

"And that might not be what she needs at all." Cain ducked out of the tent.