"Be right back!" An'Arie shouted to Mar'E as she walked down a dark hallway.
I poked a glittery arm and sparkles showered my shirt. //Heck,// I thought, //it's festive.// "Mar'E, shouldn't someone go with An? It's a big castle, she could get lost."
"Ah, she'll be fine." Mar'E casually waved a seafoam-green scarf at me. "Hey, who exactly is that Greco-Roman wrestler, anyhow?"
I shrugged. "I think it's Kell. I figure he's got the muscles for it. Why?"
"Just wondering. I don't know any of these boys, remember?"
"Right. Hey, you're not gonna ditch us for a bunch of nekkid Padawans, are you?"
Just then two bloodcurdling screams rang through the ballroom. I jumped a foot in the air. "Forget it," I said as I headed towards the hall An'Arie had gone down. "I just knew something was gonna happen!"
Antigone peeked down the hall, and immediately retreated. "She's, uh, she's fine."
Mar'E raised her eyebrows. "Really?"
Antigone smiled, and silently mouthed, "Tycho."
So what was that other scream?
At that moment, Varghona rushed into the ballroom and hid behind the nearest warm body, which happened to be Wes. "Well, hi, Varg. Didja change your mind about that bass drum thing?"
Varghona didn't even bother with a comeback. She merely pointed a shaky finger back the way she had come. Sydney, Mar'E, Antigone, and I rushed over to her.
"What happened? What's wrong?" Varg only waved her finger more insistently at the other room and muttered naughty words. I decided I'd go check it out, but I wasn't about to get caught by whatever had frightened Varg so badly, so I grabbed Hobbie's wrist and pulled him along with me.
"Just come on."
I put on a brave face, Hobbie put on a marginally braver one, and we stepped cautiously into the adjoining room.
After maybe five minutes of snooping around and finding absolutely nothing remotely scream-worthy, we rejoined the crowd. I noticed that Wes looked a little befuddled. Who could blame him, really. Varghona had been telling him to take a hike all night and now all of a sudden she wanted a hug? He was dutifully patting her back when Hobbie and I returned to report nothing of interest.
"We found a tapestry that had weird looking animals with horns on their heads on it, but that's it," Hobbie said.
Varghona extracted herself from Wes's arms and said, "You didn't see a suit of armor?" Hobbie and I shook our heads. "You would have noticed it. It was walking around."
"Yeah, it came up behind me, and grabbed my shoulder, and that's when I screamed."
I immediately glared at Kell and Runt. "Guys, did you do that?"
They shook their heads violently. "No way. That's just a bit too weird, even for us," Kell said.
I looked over the rest of the crowd. Everyone looked utterly innocent.
A flash of lightning lit the ballroom. Over the thunder, Hobbie said, "Listen
to that rain."
Continued in Part Eight