A baobab of any sort is a strange-looking tree, with a really thick trunk and a shallow canopy of branches arrayed at its top like a collection of lilypads on the surface of a pond, each laying parallel to the ground below. This baobab, the Baobab, is particularly strange. It has open woody knots all about its barrel chest, and the knots are stained with blood. Its roots part from its trunk ten feet above the earth and explode down like a skirt of wooden snakes, plunging into the ground only inches apart. The roots quiver when touched, and only part upon the command of Mab herself. Which makes the space underneath the Baobab’s trunk a sort of prison cell.
Jim stands in the cell, glaring out at the world.
“Look at that stubborn son of a bitch,” Adrian says. He means it as a compliment. “If he just called for his dad, don’t you think he’d be rescued in a heartbeat? But instead he just stands there wearing pissed off all over his face.”
“That’s rock and roll for you,” Eddie says. “Arm up.”
Eddie hands out spears from a dried elephant’s foot like an umbrella stand. That’s smart. I take one. Even if I can only use it with one arm, the thing has a sharp point on it, unworked enough that it will poke a hole through any of Mab’s children.
“Mierda,” Mike mutters. He’s staring at the Baobab. “Is that thing a tree or a monster?”
“It’s a tree,” I say. “A tree that eats flesh and can move.”
As if it’s heard me, which it clearly hasn’t, the Baobab’s trunk shudders.
“This is nuts.”
“True,” I admit. I’m just glad the Baobab isn’t wearing a chain around its trunk.
“Let me see!” Pulse hisses.
“Once.” I take him out and give him a good long look.
“Hey!” he cracks as I stuff him back inside. “It’s just about to get really good.”
“Don’t worry,” I say, “you’ll be in the thick of it.”
“You going to bring Oberon over here, then?” Eddie asks.
I look around the edge of the clearing and nod a direction. “Get as close to the tree as you can,” I tell him, “without getting into trouble. I’ll bring him to meet you.”
Eddie pumps his boomer. It looks like he’s holding two spears and stroking one of them. “What makes you worry I’d get into trouble?” he asks.
I show him a dazzling groupie, though I don’t know how much of it he can see through Adrian’s wards. “That’s rock and roll for you,” I tell him.