Bob,” I said, louder. “Are you saying it… it ate my magic?”Bob got a defensive look on his face. “Not all of it. I woke you up as quick as I could. Harry, don’t worry about it, you’ll heal. Sure, you might be down for a couple of months. Or, um, years. Well, decades, possibly, but that’s only a very outside chance—”I cut him off with a slash of my hand. “He ate part of my power,” I said. “Does that mean that the Nightmare is stronger?”“Well, naturally, Harry. You are what you eat.”“Dammit,” I snarled, pressing one hand against my forehead. “Okay, okay. We’ve really got to find this thing now.” I started pacing back and forth. “If it’s using my power, it makes me responsible for what it does with it.”Bob scoffed. “Harry, that’s irrational.”I shot him a look. “That doesn’t make it any less true,” I snapped.“Okay,” Bob said, meekly. “We have now left Reason and Sanity Junction. Next stop, Looneyville.
There was a small stone in her palm, a deep blue opal. I leaned a little closer, eyeing it. It was set on a silver stud—an earring.“It should suffice to contain the parasite for what time remains,” Mab said. “Put it on.”“My ears aren’t pierced,” I objected.Mab arched an eyebrow. “Are you the Winter Knight or some sort of puling child?”I scowled at her. “Come over here and say that.”At that, Mab calmly stepped onto the shore of Demonreach, until her toes were almost touching mine. She was several inches over six feet tall, and barely had to reach up to take my earlobe in her fingers.“Wait,” I said. “Wait.”She paused.“The left one.”Mab tilted her head. “Why?”“It’s . . . Look, it’s a mortal thing. Just do the left one, okay?”She exhaled briefly through her nose. Then she shook her head and changed ears.
Fear has a lot of flavors and textures. There's a sharp, silver fear that runs like lightning through your arms and legs, galvanizes you into action, power, motion. There's heavy, leaden fear that comes in ingots, piling up in your belly during the empty hours between midnight and morning, when everything is dark, every problem grows larger, and every wound and illness grows worse. And there is coppery fear, drawn tight as the strings of a violin, quavering on one single note that cannot possibly be sustained for a single second longer—but goes on and on and on, the tension before the crash of cymbals, the brassy challenge of the horns, the threatening rumble of the kettle drums. That's the kind of fear I felt. Horrible, clutching tension that left the coppery flavor of blood on my tongue. Fear of the creatures in the darkness around me, of my own weakness, the stolen power the Nightmare had torn from me. And fear for those around me, for the folk who didn't have the power I had.