Wearily, she made the jump to the last stone and collapsed
on the steps of the landing stage. Even her eyelids could
barely move, and her field of vision had narrowed to a little
slit directly to her front. The grain of the planks of the
landing stage loomed close, as she crawled up to the gate
and halfheartedly fell against it.
The gate swung open, pitching her onto a paved courtyard,
the beginning of a red-brick path, the bricks ancient, their
redness the color of dusty apples. The path wound up to the
front door of the house, a cheerful sky-blue door, bright
against whitewashed stone. A bronze doorknocker in the
shape of a lion’s head holding a ring in its mouth gleamed
in counterpoint to the white cat that lay coiled on the rush
mat before the door.
Sabriel lay on the bricks and smiled up at the cat, blinking
back tears. The cat twitched and turned its head ever so
slightly to look at her, revealing bright, green eyes.
“Hello, puss,” croaked Sabriel, coughing as she staggered
once more to her feet and walked forward, groaning and
creaking with every step. She reached down to pat the cat,
and froze—for, as the cat thrust its head up, she saw the
collar around its neck and the tiny bell that hung there. The
collar was only red leather, but the Charter-spell on it was
the strongest, most enduring, binding that Sabriel had ever
seen or felt—and the bell was a miniature Saraneth. The
cat was no cat, but a Free Magic creature of ancient power.
“Abhorsen,” mewed the cat, its little pink tongue darting.
“About time you got here.”
Sabriel stared at it for a moment, gave a little sort of moan
and fell forward in a faint of exhaustion and dismay.
Another week, another bout of POOR TIME MANAGEMENT on my part. I am clearly the coolest person.