Thomas could not stop shaking as he held Ruby's wrist with tight fingers. He came to the point where every moment was a possibly frightening one. How was he to know when or not he would fly up again like he had in the Corridor? Humphrey needed to return to him soon, so they could gallop away from this place at once!
Ruby kept walking in her unbelievably long strides. It was so dark around them that he could see nothing but the outline of Ruby's arm that he grasped so tightly. Where was she leading him? To see this 'Grane' person? To feed him to rabid lions? What if the lions had already gotten Humphrey?
Thomas found himself flinching at the thought of that, and in his fright, he dug his heels into the ground.
"Little one, do not be alarmed." Ruby said. "You are an adventurer, are you not?"
Thomas scowled. "I am! I am a deep jungle tiger hunter!"
"…Yes, of course you are. Such a fearless hunter would not be worried of a little darkness, would he?" Ruby replied.
"N-no," Thomas defended. "I am merely caught off guard, is all. You haven't told me anything about these people, after all."
Ruby made another laughing sound. "Oh, my apologizes. I believe you will like Grane and Tin. They are rather civilized, though they are men. Tin looks much like you; I suspect he will be pleasantly surprised to meet you."
"The sorcerer?" He questioned.
"Yes, the one. And Grane is the strong man you saw in the circus earlier."
Thomas frowned again. "The one with no hands."
"He has hands, little one," Ruby corrected. "But he is not human. Simply because he doesn't look like you doesn't mean that he is a freak. Nor am I."
"I can definitely tell you're not human." Thomas mused, looking down at her strange wrist.
"I am not. Though I am a humanoid—such a silly word humans gave to other beings to make them feel closer to us. I am a nightsprite."
Thomas nearly tripped over something invisible on the ground. He gripped her wrist even tighter, pulling himself back to his feet to keep up with Ruby's long strides. His heart pounded heavily at the fear of falling again. Had he tripped over a rock? Maybe it was a sign from Humphrey, much like a trail of breadcrumbs. Where had his loyal sidekick gone off to now?
"Where are you from? I've never seen anyone like you before in London." Thomas asked, keeping his eyes trained on the pitch black ground beneath him.
Ruby laughed again. "You are very young, Tommy. It is not a matter of 'where', but rather 'when'."
The tall woman stopped walking. "All in due time, Tommy. Too many facts at once and you will gain a headache. We are here. I must leave you now."
"What? No, please, you can't leave!" Thomas blurted out. He grasped her wrist even tighter, unwilling to let go. He had half a mind to yell out in the darkness for Humphrey. Oh, where could he be?
"Dear child, Madame calls me. I must go. Just keep walking forward—you will find your way. Just do not listen to anything the cat tells you." Ruby said gently, but firmly.
"What? What does that even mean?"
Ruby tugged her wrist away from him, gently at first. But when he wouldn't let go, she opened her long, clawed hand. Frightened that it might cut him, Thomas reluctantly let go. Ruby set her hand gently on his head for a moment. But that disappeared just as quickly as it came. Within a few seconds, he was alone in the pitch black darkness of this insane circus.
Thomas wrung his hands together as he looked around. It was so dark that nothing came to his sight, not even Ruby leaving. Was she still here, watching him from a distance? Was anyone here?
He bit his lip tightly to keep himself from being a little girl. He was a strong explorer, like Ruby had said. He wasn't afraid of the silly old dark!
Thomas clenched his fists together and stormed forward, intent to let his determination to lead him forward.
But doubt crawled its way into his head.
What was he doing, going so far into this crazy circus on nothing more than a hunch? A feeling? Was he so willing to throw away everything he had known for a strange hunch on someone he had never met before?
Thomas stopped dead in the darkness. Panic started to take over. Oh no, oh no. There was no way out. He was too far over his head. All alone.
In this darkness.
The darkness was so blinding that he couldn't even see his own hands in front of him. There was nothing more than this darkness.
Thomas collapsed on weak knees, falling to the ground on his rump. He felt small and like a child; no longer a fearless tiger hunter or a deep sea diver, but just a spoiled little boy.
"Humphrey!" Thomas wailed out into the darkness. He looked around but saw nothing. He clenched his fists into his trousers. "Humphrey!" He called again, hoping to hear the familiar hoof clops of his closest and only friend.
But there was nothing.