The warrior joined him, roughly shoved him aside and began working on Margaret. She managed to stop the bleeding, but needed to remove Margaret’s leg too.
His heart sank, felt torn into ribbons of grief. “I trusted them to not hurt her.” He sounded shocked and filled with dread.
“This is why it was important for you to leave at once.” The warrior said. “Margaret will live at least long enough for us to get to safety. Once there our doctors will do what is necessary to save both if possible.”
Losing both Margaret and their child was incomprehensible. He began to ask questions, but found she was moving away on foot. He followed and stopped alongside her. She stood at the edge of an abyss. He turned to look back. There was no sign a portal existed where a moment before they’d passed through one. Instead, he saw they were on a large round disk of earth, with the top sections of tree limbs overhanging one side. Walking its perimeter showed him they were at least five hundred feet above the thickly foliaged ground. Laying down so he could safely look over the edge, he saw that the disk they stood on was supported by large branches from a tree that leaned outwards as if the weight pulled it that way. On his back, he saw several more similar disks above. The highest one was a small speck. Each disk was supported by what looked like the same tree by huge tree limbs from a massive central trunk. There were even more disks around three sides of the huge dark tree.
Towering over all of the disks he saw three stone statues of what he believed was a goddess. She had a merciful face, and wore a hooded robe that hung to her feet.
The ring world just became stranger. The place the portal opened to was a world within a world. Slowly, wearily, Stanton stood and rejoined the warrior.
“What do you call your home?” He brushed the loose dirt from his clothing, and shook his head as he did. Still in uniform, Stanton.
She studied him a moment as if needing to evaluate the question for sincerity. “This is Ffaraon. We are Pheryllt Druids once metallurgists and Alchemists. This tree city is known as Ambrosial City.”
“How long have your people lived in this world?”
She frowned in a way that expressed a slice of anger along the edge of misunderstanding. “We have always lived here.”
The distant past was once the distant future, his mentor informed him while he trained in human history. He nodded as if understanding, which he supposed at the time in a way he did.
As he opened his mouth to continue, a loud noise interrupted. They both turned at the same time and watched the most amazing sight he’d ever seen. His companion didn’t seem surprised or even impressed at the sight. Three creatures eight feet tall that looked like a slender lions with a flowing manes, longhaired tails lengthier than their bodies and arms that ended in human hands with six long delicate fingers. Their faces made his heart jump and race. They were like snowy owls and above stood antlers that curved down and inward. Their bodies and tails were silver gold, their manes reddish gold and antlers black. Behind the antlers stood a pair of ears not unlike cat ears, but narrower and taller. They had gold brown slanted human eyes filled with the intensity of knowledge he found astounding. As they climbed off the tree limb that transported them they looked like large cats walking upright on hind legs.
“Good,” said the warrior. “They have arrived. If your woman can be saved they will save her.”
“And if not?” he spoke the thought he’d worried in the back of his mind.
“They will then save the child. She will be quite premature but for the guardians her age will not make a difference.”