Leah was thrilled to get out into the countryside after so long in the city. Dorian was not similarly moved. The mountains hemmed them close as they travelled through the circuitous countryside, the roads wrapping around the lochs and mountains.
“It’s beautiful, isn’t it?” she asked.
“If you like that sort of thing,” he said.
“Aren’t your people from around here?” she said.
“If you mean the fae, some of them, yes,” he said, “Selkies originate further west. But you’ll find I have no love for my home either.”
“I don’t understand that,” said Leah, “it’s breathtaking.”
Dorian just stared out the window.
The train stopped with a quiet sigh, that much louder because their destination was one of the most remote in the Highlands. Leah watched the train go, the desolate surroundings crowding in on her and Dorian as they stood together on the platform.
Dorian walked out and across the moor without a word, and Leah followed. The mist began to descend as they approached the mountains on the opposite side of the moor, and wreathed itself around them as they began to ascend. She lost sight of Dorian, black-clad, picking his way up the mountain with an air of etiquette she felt was out of place in mountain climbing. Soon, she could see nothing more than the mist.
"Dorian?" asked Leah.
Leah stood on the side of the mountain, stock-still. The mist was a shawl around her shoulders, obscuring her view.
“If I don't end up getting eaten by a monster, I'm going to fall to my death,” she muttered, afraid to shout for Dorian in case it marked her location. Monsters in the quiet brooding Highlands, with silence surrounding her, was a much different experience than when they made you coffee and asked about your day.
“Here,” murmured Dorian, briefly touching her shoulder so that she nearly jumped out of her skin.
“Dorian Grey!” she snarled, “Don't do that. You scared me half to death.”
“Look,” he said, and nodded in the direction of the glen below.
Leah stared into the white and was about to ask him what he meant when the mist cleared enough for her to see the Attendants to the Guardian standing below. Their bonelike forms seemed as though they were part of the landscape, until she saw them walking.
“They never leave Glasgow,” whispered Dorian, “Ever. Look what happened when Aonghas decided to have a few drinks in Belfast.”
“Maybe … it wasn't Aonghas's fault after all,” Leah whispered back. “What's going on here, Dorian?”
He shook his head.
“I really don't know,” he replied, “Every creature has their home-place. For me, and for Magnus - “ here he grimaced slightly - “that's Islay, the land above Seal-Hame. For Aonghas, it's Glasgow, and was Glasgow back when it could accurately be called 'the dear green place'. We are not creatures that move.”
“And yet Yoo Min is here,” Leah said.
“From what I understand, Chief Ben owed someone a favour from his younger days,” said Dorian, “and the idea was to remove her from the temptation of men. I don't think she expected to find someone like Magnus here. The final few years of the trial are the hardest, I assume because the monster is dying.”
“The guys out in Korea really that good?” she asked.
“Apparently,” said Dorian drily.
“Huh,” said Leah, “I'll have to book a ticket.”
She then stood up, and motioned Dorian to follow. They wound their way down the mountain and into the darkness of the caves below.
Leah couldn't see. It was so dark in the cave that the only visible light was the small pinpoint from the entrance. She kept stumbling and swearing under her breath.
“Take this,” said Dorian's voice at her elbow, handing her one end of a rope.
“What's this?” she whispered.
“It's a rope,” he said unnecessarily, “follow me.”
“You mean you can see down here?” she asked.
“Yes,” he replied.
He turned to her, and she was startled to see his eyes were a luminescent blue, like the phosphorescent waters in the southern oceans. But she wasn't as surprised as she once would have been.
They continued into the blackness. Leah shut her eyes and opened them. It made no difference.
“You're lucky I trust you,” she said.
“You can buy me a fish when we're done,” Dorian's voice floated back to her from somewhere in the distance.
“Don't you vanish on me, Dorian Grey,” she said.
“Don't worry, Leah,” he said, his voice near her elbow, “Come over here.”
He tugged on the rope and she followed. A dull light was visible and as her eyes adjusted she saw that they were on the roof of some large interior room in the cave. Dorian lay flat on his stomach and indicated she do the same.
They looked down into the cavernous room. The Attendants were there. A strange misshapen creature sat before them. Behind him, a beautiful waterfall cascaded down into the cave, and they realised it wasn't a cave at all, but a deep ravine with an overhang. Dorian shook his head. He stood up and backed away, and Leah stood to join him.
"What is it?" she asked.
"I don't know what's going on here," he said, "but I think I know someone who might."