Lydia raised an eyebrow at Karenâ€™s reaction. She wanted to comment, but Andrew beat her to it.
â€œDid you think theyâ€™d still be there?â€ he said. â€œDonâ€™t be naive.â€
â€œI said I knew it, didnâ€™t I?â€ she said. â€œWhich part of that didnâ€™t you understand?â€
â€œThe bit where youâ€™re swearing about it. You wouldnâ€™t be if youâ€™d expected it,â€ he said.
Karen looked away and flushed. â€œYouâ€™re right. Part of me knew, but it was a shock when I looked back and they were gone.â€ She looked around with a determined expression. â€œSo where do we go?â€
â€œHmmâ€¦ Wellâ€¦â€ Lydia said. â€œMy gut is saying we should head for that.â€ She pointed at a small, partly ruined building nestled between two hills. Something about the white faÃ§ade and the vaguely Grecian columns reminded her of photos of the Parthenon. Perhaps it had been a temple once. â€œItâ€™s the only non-natural landmark and on a direct line of sight with where we arrived. It was the first thing I saw. Itâ€™s suggestive.â€
Andrew looked at the building. â€œYouâ€™re right. What do you think, Kaz?â€
â€œIt makes sense,â€ she said. â€œEspecially since weâ€™re standing on the path leading to it.â€
Lydia looked down. They were indeed standing on an overgrown path which led straight to the building. â€œI- I didnâ€™t notice that,â€ she said. â€œBut that makes it even more likely itâ€™s where weâ€™re meant to go.â€
â€œItâ€™s where whoever forced us to come here wants us to go, anyway.â€ Karen said. â€œI still donâ€™t like this.â€
Lydia wasnâ€™t surprised. She was surprised that she didnâ€™t agree. She glanced over at Andrew and knew he was thinking the same thing.
â€œSo, weâ€™re agreed?â€ he asked. â€œWe head for there?â€
â€œYou go first,â€ Lydia said. â€œThen when you fall over you wonâ€™t knock me and Kaz flying in the process.â€
â€œHey! My sense of balance isnâ€™t that bad!â€ he said. â€œI can walk downhill without falling over.â€ He did take the lead and looked back over his shoulder. â€œRiding a bike is much harder.â€
â€œI suppose so.â€ Lydia started down the path after him.
About halfway down the hillside Lydia became aware of a tugging in her head. It felt like when one of the others was looking for her except she knew it wasnâ€™t Daniel, and it seemed to be coming from the sky. She stopped and looked up, trying to locate the source.
â€œWhatâ€™s wrong?â€ Karen asked.
Lydia shushed her and held up her hand to request silence as her eyes scanned the sky. Andrew stopped when he heard Karenâ€™s question and looked back at them. Lydia motioned for him to be quiet as well. A dark speck stood out against the blue. She reached behind her and pulled her binoculars from their pouch and looked up at it.
A bird of prey wheeled in the air above them before diving directly at her. There was a click in her head as the seeker locked onto her. She doubted it was coincidence, but she sensed no hostile intent â€“ just a yearning echoed by the depths of her own heart.
She dropped the binoculars to her chest and held her arm out to the coppery-feathered hawk. It back-winged and landed on her arm.
â€œHeart friend!â€ he said, â€œI knew you were coming! Iâ€™ve been looking for you.â€
â€œOkaaayâ€¦. weâ€™re in Narnia,â€ Karen said.
Lydia shot a glance at her and saw a strange expression flit across her face.
â€œDoesnâ€™t that hurt?â€ Andrew asked.
Lydia looked down at her arm. Having a hawk attached to her by its talons should hurt, shouldnâ€™t it? But it didnâ€™t, and the sleeve of her gortex jacket was undamaged let alone her skin.
â€œNo, no it doesnâ€™t.â€ She shook her head and looked back at the bird. â€œWhat did you call me?â€
â€œHeart friend,â€ he said. â€œThe one who Iâ€™ve dreamed of since before I hatched. Iâ€™m Bennu.â€
â€œIâ€™m Lydia,â€ she said as she realised something. â€œIâ€™ve dreamed of you too. Almost every night for as long as I can remember.â€
â€œOf course. It works both ways. Thereâ€™s a bond between us which canâ€™t be broken.â€
â€œOkay, thatâ€™s creepy.â€ Karen said. Bennu looked over at her and Andrew.
â€œWho are your friends?â€
â€œOh, of course.â€ Lydia held her forearm up to her shoulder. Bennu got the idea and hopped onto the offered perch. Once again his talons didnâ€™t tear into her. â€œThese are my brother and sister Andrew and Karen.â€
â€œAh, of course! Your litter mates! I remember them from my dreams,â€ Bennu said.
Andrew began to laugh. â€œLitter mates. Put like that it sounds so mundane doesnâ€™t it?â€
â€œOh, sorry!â€ Bennuâ€™s body language was hard to read, but Lydia sensed mortification from him, â€œDid I say something wrong? Iâ€™ve never met any humans before.â€
â€œIt wasnâ€™t insulting,â€ Andrew said. â€œBut humans donâ€™t usually have â€˜littersâ€™. When someone has more than one child at a time itâ€™s unusual enough to comment on. Weâ€™ve grown up with people acting as if it was the most notable thing about us.â€
â€œOhâ€¦ I see. I donâ€™t know much about humans. Iâ€™ll learn.â€
â€œWell, weâ€™ve never met a talking bird. Animals donâ€™t speak where weâ€™re from,â€ Lydia said. â€œWeâ€™ll just have to learn together.â€
â€œThatâ€™s true,â€ Bennu said. He seemed unsurprised to hear that animals did not speak in their world. â€œWeâ€™ll manage.â€
â€œOf course we will,â€ Andrew said.
â€œI hope so.â€ Karen nodded. â€œI donâ€™t suppose you heard where that voice was coming from?â€
â€œThe one calling for help while I was looking for Lydia?â€
â€œNo. It seemed to be coming from everywhere at once. As if the whole world was crying for help.â€
â€œLovely. For all we know it could have been,â€ Karen said.
â€œYou were looking for me?â€ Lydia asked.
â€œYes, I woke up this morning knowing it would be today.â€
â€œSo what now?â€ Karen said. â€œCarry on as we were?â€
Lydia thought about it and became aware of another strange pulling sensation at the core of her being which had not been there before Bennuâ€™s appearance. It called her towards the ruined building theyâ€™d been heading for. â€œYes, Iâ€™m sure weâ€™ve got to go there now. Itâ€™s calling to me. I can feel it.â€
â€œYou can feel it?â€ Karen said and Lydia nodded. â€œOkay, thatâ€™s good enough for me.â€
â€œYeah,â€ Andrew said. â€œLead on, Lyd.â€
â€œThanks guys.â€ Lydia stroked Bennuâ€™s feathers. â€œLetâ€™s move out then.â€ She headed down into the valley.