10 years ago, The Underworld
Gold watched Zelena delicately stir a pile of ash with the toe of her boot. A mere minute ago, that pile of ash was Hades, Lord of the Underworld.
"Now, explain to me again why you couldn't do that on your own?" Zelena asked.
"The contract, dearie," Gold said, struggling to keep his annoyance in check; he explained this already. "Hades owned me, therefore I couldn't kill him."
Once upon a time, Gold made a deal with a sorcerer to save Baelfire. Trading away the life of his second-born child had been easy. He never expected to become a father again.
But then along came Belle.
When Hades bought the contract Gold signed all those centuries ago, Gold's only option was to offer himself in place of his and Belle's unborn son or daughter.
So, he became Hades' pet.
Temporarily, of course. Gold didn't intend for things to stay that way, of course. He only had to play Hades' game long enough for an opportunity to come along. And it did, in the form of Zelena. Zelena, who was currently pouting, presumably about the inconvenience of having to trek all the way to the Underworld to help him.
"What are you so upset about?" Gold asked. "We both get something we want out of this."
Zelena gave her boot a delicate flick to remove the ash, then spun on her heel to face him.
"Speaking of which," she said. "You got what you wanted, now give me what I want."
"In a hurry, are we?"
"You may be willing to wait another decade to get back to your children, but I'd much prefer to be with my daughter right now, thank you."
Gold just smiled in bemusement.
"You do have the memories of all the previous Dark Ones, correct?" Zelena persisted, one eyebrow arced haughtily. "Or was that just a lie to get me to do your bidding?"
"It wasn't a lie. I have what you need," Gold said.
Nestled within his own memories were the memories of every single person who ever bore the Darkness, including its most recent hosts, Emma Swan and Killian Jones. Zelena wanted the spell Emma used to accelerate her pregnancy. It was trivial information, something Gold didn't mind relinquishing, especially when it was required purely for the sake of petty revenge.
"You just have to promise me one thing," he added.
"And what's that?"
"Promise me you won't harm Belle or our children."
Zelena was volatile, prone to explosion; Gold didn't want Belle or their children—yes, children, plural—to become collateral damage.
She snorted. "I won't touch your children, Rumple. I don't need them. Emma Swan has what I need."
Gold's smile grew.
Emma Swan had what he needed, too.
Rather, her unborn son did.
Which was why Zelena's plan needed to fail.
And it would, Gold knew, because Zelena was arrogant and impatient. But he wasn't impatient. He could wait for as long as it took for another opportunity to present itself.
When Zelena was gone, returned to Storybrooke, Gold took up the crystal scrying orb and carried it back to Hades' throne—his throne now, he supposed.
He sat, and lifted the orb to eye level. In its depths, an image flickered to life, an image of Belle sorting books in the library. Her pregnancy was beginning to show, and he could only imagine how much larger and rounder her stomach would become as the twins inside grew.
A boy and a girl.
He couldn't wait to meet them.
Granny's patio was packed with costumed customers. They flowed in and out of the diner, and poured out onto the sidewalk and into the street, which was blocked off for the annual Halloween festival. The side door of The Crow's Nest was thrown open, and Emma could see just as many people, adults and children alike, inside as out.
Killian was in there somewhere, doing whatever it was that he needed to do in order to extricate himself from his own business long enough for them to take their kids trick-or-treating together, like they did every year.
Emma, even though she knew she shouldn't be, was getting impatient. Fast.
It was fear, mostly; fear of what would happen when the natives began growing restless—the natives being her and Killian's two daughters.
Evie would probably be fine. Even at two-and-a-half she was the chillest of the bunch, totally content as long as she was in someone's arms, which she was right now, serenely watching the crowd with big green eyes from her perch on Emma's hip.
Emma leaned in and brushed her nose against Evie's plump, soft cheek. The girl had refused to learn how to walk for the longest time purely because she liked being held and carried, and Emma had shamelessly indulged her, knowing Evie was the last, wanting her to remain a baby for as long as possible.
Luckily, it hadn't backfired. Evie remained a calm, sweet, easygoing kid.
Jackie was the opposite, and it was Jackie that Emma was worried about.
She was currently occupied with eating a candied apple—if you could call scraping all the caramel and nuts off with your teeth and avoiding the actual apple part eating it—but wouldn't be for much longer.
Emma turned to her five-year-old daughter, who regarded her with eyes the exact same shade as Evie's over the apple she currently held in two sticky hands (because apparently holding a candied apple by the stick was for weaklings). Jackie wasn't very good at waiting. When the apple became just an apple, the questions would start, and the whining, and the impatient tugs on Emma's hand, then the insistent pushing on her rear end when the tugs proved useless.
Maybe if Emma got Jackie talking, she could stall the inevitable. All she had to do was distract Jackie long enough for Killian to arrive.
"How's your apple?" Emma asked, saying out loud the first and only thing that came to mind.
"Good," Jackie said, and licked a smear of caramel from the corner of her lips.
"Are you going to eat the actual apple part?"
Jackie grinned wickedly, an expression Emma blamed entirely on Ian.
"I eat apple," Evie offered, in a tiny, impossibly cute voice that Emma used to think could only come from a cartoon animal.
Emma raised an eyebrow. "You want Jackie's apple when she's done with it?"
Emma was about to talk her down—did she really want an apple coated with Jackie's saliva and some already-licked caramel?—but stopped herself. Her kids had weird tastes, and she knew better than to argue with them if she wanted to maintain the appearance of being in charge. At least this way they wouldn't waste food. Killian would be happy.
The little bell over the diner door tinkled, and Emma looked over, as she had been for the past hour or so, waiting for Ian and Enzo to try and sneak by, but it was only an elderly couple emerging.
No, it was two people dressed as an elderly couple.
Emma smiled faintly at the sight. She herself was not in costume; she'd given up believing she had the time and the energy and the time to properly pull that off years ago. About three years ago, to be exact, when she was pregnant with Evie.
It was fine. Emma didn't mind. All that mattered was that the kids dressed up and had fun. That was more sacred to her than anything, and every year she made a gigantic deal out of going to the store to pick out the perfect costume and all the proper accessories.
This year, Emma made the mistake of inviting her mom along with them. Mary Margaret had been living out the fantasy of having more daughters through Jackie and Evie since their births. One out of the two was not having it.
Jackie snubbed every pink princess costume Mary Margaret suggested in favor of being a skeleton, complete with the black-and-white, bone-printed onesie and a plastic mask.
Mary Margaret was disappointed.
Emma wasn't surprised. Emma knew her daughter, and she knew frilly dresses and plastic crowns weren't her thing. Jackie was a "rough-and-tumble sort of lass" as Killian liked to put it, all scraped knees and knotted hair and splashing in mud puddles with the dog. She liked to follow her grandfather around the farm, or Killian aboard the Jolly Roger, or tail Ian and his bike up and down the block with her Big Wheel; she couldn't be less interested in anything Mary Margaret—and sometimes Emma—had to offer.
Emma thought Evie might take Mary Margaret's pink, glittery bait, but in the end she'd chosen a Cookie Monster costume. Again, Emma wasn't surprised. Sesame Street was Evie's favorite, and nothing made Evie giggle like Killian's Cookie Monster impression did.
The bell over Granny's front door chimed again, and when Emma looked over that time, she saw two short figures in two very distinctive hats pushing their way through the crowd and towards the street.
Quick as lightning, Emma reached out and snagged Ian's arm, halting him.
"Hang on a second there, Watson," she said.
"Mom," Ian complained. His blue eyes flashed in annoyance, but for Emma it was difficult not to laugh—he was wearing a fake moustache, and it was crooked.
Carefully, Emma peeled the bit of fur off his upper lip and replaced it so it was centered. Ian held still, but he did his best preteen I'm too cool for this glare beneath the brim of his bowler hat. Behind him, Enzo, dressed as Sherlock Holmes, his red-gold hair perfectly coiffed under a grey deerstalker, watched placidly.
"Alright, much better," Emma said, giving the moustache a final smoothing to ensure it was firmly stuck in place.
Ian drew a breath, nostrils flaring, whatever bit of sarcasm he was about to spew already curdling the air—but then a second, much smaller set of fingers joined Emma's.
"I touch," Evie said.
Ian's mouth closed. The ice receded from his expression, the sea of moodiness ebbing. The mouthy, irritable Ian that Emma and Killian has been living with since 5th grade started in September disappeared, and regular Ian took his place. He tilted his chin up, pursed his lips, and let Evie stroke his moustache.
"Like it?" he asked.
"No," Evie answered, sweetly and simply.
Enzo snorted. Ian scowled and huffed through his nose, blowing air over Evie's fingers, making her giggle and withdraw her hand.
"Did you two eat dinner?" Emma asked.
Ian's eyes widened. "Uh..." he stuttered.
"That's a 'no', then." Killian emerged from the crowd on Emma's left, smirking. "Don't you remember what happened last year?"
"No," Ian lied.
"Last year you ate nothing all day before you went and ate half your bag of candy all at once," Emma said, and paused, waiting for Ian to say he remembered and spare himself some embarrassment, but he remained resolutely silent, so she continued, "You threw up all over yourself."
"Yourself," Killian amended, "and the little girl who was unfortunate enough to be standing next to you,"
Ian flushed bright red.
"It was basically like you were a fire truck and the little girl was a burning building," Enzo said dryly. "Only instead of water it was chocolate."
Ian rounded on him. "Seriously, traitor?"
Enzo shrugged, though Emma saw the slight upwards curl at the corner of his mouth, and the glint of amusement in his brown eyes.
Chuckling, Killian slid his hand around Emma's waist to the small of her back. "If you two weren't eating dinner, what were you doing in Granny's this past hour?"
Both boys perked up and turned, grinning hugely.
Enzo produced a folded piece of paper and flicked it open with a flourish. "We were making this," he said.
It was a map, drawn in Sharpie and colored pencil. It showed the entirety of the residential section of Storybrooke, and, as far as Emma could tell, it was accurate down to every sidewalk, driveway, and bush.
Killian took the paper from Enzo and let out a low, appreciative whistle.
"Now this," he said admiringly, "is a proper map!"
Emma leaned in to see better. "What are all the stars for?" she asked.
"The stars mark the houses with the best candy," Ian said, pressing in on Emma's right. He pointed to a little square on the map decorated with a glowing yellow star. "This house had full-size candy bars last year. And this one-" He slid his finger over a little, to a square with a drawing of what was clearly a steaming pile of poop- "Only gave out Tootsie Rolls and Dubble Bubble."
Emma had seen enough of Ian's art to know immediately that the drawing and the coloring were his work—and she'd also seen enough of his handwriting to know that the labels were Enzo's. It was impressive, and it explained what they'd been working on in Ian's bedroom for the past month.
Killian shook his head slowly, eyes twinkling. "There's no getting between a pirate and his treasure, no matter the treasure," he said.
Ian beamed, and even Enzo, usually reserved to the point of appearing aloof to those who didn't know him, looked flattered.
Something poked Emma in the side. Apparently Ian felt it too, because he jumped. Jackie pushed herself into the gap, frowning. She took one long look at the map Killian held, and said, "I wanna go."
Ian turned wide, panicked eyes on Emma. He understood what she also understood: Jackie didn't just mean she wanted to go trick-or-treating, she meant she wanted to go trick-or-treating with Ian, something Emma had promised Ian she would do her best to prevent so he and Enzo could enjoy their first Halloween trick-or-treating alone, without adults.
"Be back by 8," she said quickly.
Ian nodded and started walking backwards, then stopped and wrinkled his nose. "Wait, 8?"
"The costume contest is at 8," Enzo said pointedly, grabbing his sleeve and pulling him into the crowd.
Killian hastily refolded the map and handed it to Emma, who shoved it into Ian's hands.
"Be careful, lads," Killian said.
"We will, dad."
"Don't go into anyone's house."
"Mom, we know."
"And stay out of the woods!" Emma called, but they were already out of sight.
It took Ian and Enzo the better part of three hours to complete their trick-or-treating route. They crossed off the houses on their map as they went, and occasionally added a note to help them plan a better, more accurate map for next year.
"Rude dog," Enzo muttered, scribbling inside one of the squares on the map as they walked down the sidewalk, kicking their way through piles of crunchy orange and brown leaves.
"Rude?" Ian squawked indignantly, clutching the forearm a large German Shepherd had just attempted to amputate with his teeth. The dog had burst out of the front door the moment Ian rang the doorbell, and only his thick tweed jacket and a little accidental burst of magic saved him. "How about evil?" he suggested. "Or, malicious?"
"Hm, malicious. Big word. I like it." Enzo crossed out 'rude' and wrote 'malicious' next to it. "They had exceptional candy though."
"I guess," Ian agreed grudgingly. "They could have given us a little more, to make up for their rude dog."
"I think two Snickers each is more than enough considering that you used magic on their dog."
"The dog's fine," Ian mumbed. He let go of his arm and reached up to remove his bowler hat and give his gelled hair a pat, reminding it to stay in place.
"Leave it alone," Enzo said, glancing over. "You're going to ruin it."
"You do a really good impression of my mom," Ian retorted, replacing his hat. "You should have been her for Halloween."
"Why are you in such a bad mood today?"
He was, actually, he just didn't know why. It might have been because Rowan was sick with the stomach flu and couldn't go trick-or-treating with them. Or it might have been because Neal pushed him face-first into a locker that morning and then he and all his football buddies stood there and laughed about it.
Either way, Ian's day wasn't going great. He couldn't even enjoy the fact that he had a giant bag full of candy, because lugging it around was making his shoulder ache.
"This bag's so heavy," he grumbled, dragging it from one shoulder and throwing it over the other. "Next year we should bring a little wagon with us to carry our bags."
"Maybe we can work the wagon into our costume?" Enzo said.
"We could be Transformers!"
"What? How would that even work?"
They argued about the best way to turn a Radio Flyer into a two-person Optimus Prime costume while they completed their route through the residential area and then turned back towards town. It was dark, but they took their time; the sooner they returned to their parents, the sooner their sugar consumption would be curtailed.
They traded candy while they walked. Enzo gave Ian all his Sour Patch Kids, and Ian let him take one piece of whatever he wanted in exchange for every package of the glorious gummies he handed over.
"Look, I don't know what you have against duct tape, but-"
Ian was stopped short by Enzo's hand over his mouth, and a hissed "Shhhh!" in his ear.
He pushed Enzo's hand away. "Oh my god, why are you so sweaty?"
Then Ian heard the voices—voices he recognized instantly.
"Neal and Philip," he whispered.
Neal was technically Ian's uncle, but in relationship they were more akin to cousins—cousins who didn't get along because one of them was a massive turd.
"Should we get out of here?" Enzo whispered back, but it was too late. Around the corner ahead of them came a group of five boys, all 6th and 7th graders, with Neal and his best friend Philip in the center.
Ian froze. None of the boys wore a costume; instead they were all wearing a football jersey, identical except for the numbers. Some carried cans of shaving cream, some toilet paper, and one had a carton of eggs. They were talking and laughing loudly, and the memory from that morning, of getting shoved into his own locker and then laughed at, rose up in Ian's mind.
Something else rose up inside of him as well: anger. It flowed through him, hot like lava, lighting up his veins and boiling in his stomach.
He scowled at Neal as he and his friends approached. He could get his revenge right now, he realized. He could beat Neal over the head with his candy bag until Neal cried, and no one would ever know. Enzo wouldn't tell. Neal's friends probably wouldn't either.
Before Ian could decide how much of a physical threat the other boys were—Ian bet none of them had been taught how to fight by their fathers, not like he had—Neal spoke.
"Hey, Ian," he said amicably.
The retort Ian had been preparing died on his tongue.
"Huh?" he asked, stupidly.
"We're heading into the woods to try and find some ghosts." Neal jerked his head in the direction of the woods, looming darkly over the roofs of the houses to the west. "Wanna come?"
There were rumors that ghosts haunted the woods at night, and it was a Storybrooke tradition for teenagers to go into the woods on Halloween and try to find them.
"I don't know," Ian said. It wasn't that he didn't believe in ghosts (because he definitely did, and he definitely believed there were some in the woods); what made him hesitate was Neal acting so friendly when he was surrounded by the friends he usually liked to impress by torturing Ian.
"Alexandra said she saw a ghost last year by that big hollow past the wishing well," Neal said. "We're going to look there."
Ian struggled not to roll his eyes. Neal would believe anything Alexandra Herman told him—too bad for him she didn't know he even existed.
"So, are you coming?" Neal prompted.
Ian and Enzo exchanged looks.
The woods were "off-limits" at night. Technically, the woods were forbidden at all times, even during the day, but that had never really stopped Ian and Enzo before.
They'd never been unsupervised on Halloween, however, and going into the woods to look for ghosts on the night they were supposedly the most plentiful was an opportunity they couldn't pass up.
"We're coming," they said together.
It was a ten minute walk to the woods. Ian and Enzo stowed their candy bags beneath a bush before following the older boys into the trees.
They were plunged into gloomy darkness immediately. It took most of Ian's concentration not to fall on his face. There were rocks, gnarled roots, and fallen branches everywhere, most hidden beneath a thick layer of soggy fall leaves. More than once Ian walked right through a thorn bush, scratching his skin and ripping his clothes. Despite the low visibility they had no problem following the older boys, who were crashing through the undergrowth like a herd of rhinos.
"Are you afraid?" he asked Enzo quietly, after they'd been walking for what felt like forever.
"No," Enzo answered defensively. "Are you?"
"No," Ian said, just as defensively, even as what he hoped was a leaf brushed his cheek and he nearly yelled. He wasn't super fond of the darkness. It had too many possibilities, and he'd heard too many stories—stories he was trying really, really hard not to think about.
Enzo was suddenly walking so close to him that their shoulders and arms brushed. "Can you use your magic to summon some light?" he asked.
"No," Ian said. "I mean yes, but if I do then my parents will definitely know we're not where we're supposed to be."
His mom always knew when he did magic—at least, she always knew when he did magic in the house. Ian didn't know the range on that particular superpower, but he didn't think now was a good time to test it.
They walked in silence for another minute, arms and shoulders still touching, before Ian realized that the woods were silent as well—he couldn't hear Neal and his friends anymore.
"Crap," he said, stopping.
Enzo pulled up next to him, and they both stared around, straining their ears for the sound of voices. The only sound was their shallow breathing.
"Hey, there's the well," Ian said, pointing ahead of them, through the cloud of their misted breath.
"It's on higher ground," Enzo said. "Maybe we'll be able to see them from there."
They jogged over to the well, but when they reached it there was nothing beyond except more deserted woods.
"Crap," Enzo echoed.
"They must have gone on to the hollow without us."
"Yea," Enzo agreed with a shiver. He grabbed the edges of his caped jacket and pulled it tight around his body. "Ian, I have to tell you something."
"What is it?"
"I think they tricked us."
Ian sighed glumly. "Yea, I think so too." He wouldn't be surprised if they had lured Ian and Enzo into the woods just to abandon them. In fact, the more he thought about it, the more certain he was that that was the case.
"Let's try the hollow," Enzo suggested. "Maybe they just went on ahead."
"Maybe they found the ghost."
"Maybe the ghost ate them."
"Do ghosts eat people?"
"Maybe this one does," Enzo said hopefully.
Ian kept his eyes peeled as they walked, searching for Neal and his friends. He wished Rowan was there. She probably would have been the voice of reason and prevented them from going into the woods in the first place.
Another minute of trudging through leaves and bushes that left the hem of his pants soaked through, and the hollow came into view ahead of them. They approached it from one of its sides.
It was shaped like a horseshoe. At the "toe", the inner edge sloped steeply down to a clearing far below. The slope was carpeted with leaves, with a rock poking out here and there and a few larger rocks gathered at the bottom. To their left the top edge of the hollow curved away into the darkness; to their right, the ground angled gently downwards for half the length of a football field until it leveled out again.
"There's no one here," Enzo said, unnecessarily—Ian and Enzo were very obviously alone.
It was all a prank, then. They'd been tricked into getting lost in the woods in the dark. They didn't even have their candy to keep them from starving to death while they searched for the way out. Ian was about to suggest turning around and heading back when he saw something across the hollow that chilled his blood.
Standing on the opposite side of the hollow, staring at them, was a man.
At first, Ian thought it was Neal—until he noticed the wolf sitting at the man's feet.
He was so shocked it took him several heartbeats to find his voice. "The ghost!" he breathed.
"What?" Enzo looked first at him, and then wildly around.
"There!" Ian said, pointing. He'd never seen a ghost before, and even though he had expected them to be silvery and see-through and this one wasn't, he knew it was a ghost.
"Where?" Enzo asked. "Where are you looking?"
"Across. Can't you see it?"
"Ian, there's nothing there!"
Ian wasn't going to let the ghost get away. With a growl, he took off running along the top curve of the hollow.
"Hey, wait!" Enzo called after him, but Ian kept running.
He crashed headlong through the low underbrush along the ridge, leaping over branches and rocks. He never took his eyes off the ghost, and the ghost never took its eyes off Ian. As he drew closer, he saw something glinting on the man's leather jacket—a golden Sheriff's star.
Ian grinned savagely and raced faster. He knew exactly who the ghost was.
He was halfway to his destination when a bush directly on his left rustled, and several large, bestial things leapt out of it with bloodcurdling screams.
Startled, Ian dodged sideways. One of his feet landed on the downward slope of the hollow, and he lost his balance. He hung there for a few seconds, arms pinwheeling pathetically, before he toppled head over heels backwards. He got a momentary glimpse of five grotesque Halloween masks being pulled off, and five sweaty faces staring open-mouthed at him before he was rolling down the hill.
When Ian opened his eyes, he was standing.
He faced the slope he had just tumbled down, and lying in a crumpled heap at the bottom was his body.
Ian blinked dazedly. This happened sometimes when he dreamed; he would fall asleep, and open his eyes again to find himself standing over his own sleeping body.
Only, he wasn't asleep. He knew he wasn't asleep. He was unconscious.
Or maybe he was dead.
Was this what the afterlife looked like? Ian glanced around. Everything was pale and drained of color, and a thin mist crawled along the floor, curling wispily around his ankles. He looked up at the ridge where the ghost had been standing, but there was nobody. He was alone.
He walked forward a few steps to crouch down next to his body. There was a large gash over his eye, and one side of his face was completely covered in blood. He was still breathing though.
So, not dead after all. Just unconscious.
He tried to remember if he'd ever been knocked unconscious before. He'd broken plenty of bones, gotten all sorts of cuts and bruises, but he didn't think he'd ever passed out before. Maybe this was just what happened when he was unconscious, just like how it sometimes happened when he slept.
Resigned to sitting and waiting for his body to wake up, he began looking for a good rock to sit on, and was surprised to see a door in the center of the clearing.
It was a red, radiant against the pallid landscape, and Ian was drawn to it as if by a magnet.
He grasped the handle. It was warm to the touch, and gave his hand that pins-and-needles feeling. Ignoring the voice in his head—the voice that sounded like Rowan—telling him that opening creepy doors in creepy in-between places might not be a good idea, Ian turned the handle and gave the door a little push.
It creaked open slowly.
"Hello?" Ian called. His voice echoed, as it would in a cavern or an auditorium, but there was nothing visible beyond the door, only inky blackness.
A chill crept up his spine, and Ian swallowed hard. Suddenly, he knew opening the door had been a mistake. Just as he leapt forward a gust of air rushed out, like a hot breath, reeking of sulfur. He fumbled for the door handle, but his hand passed right through the brass knob as if it wasn't there.
He stared disbelievingly at his hand for a moment, and then tried again, only to have his hand pass through a second time.
"What's happening?" he whispered, turning to look back at his body. And then he was in his body, opening his eyes to find himself lying in the dirt and the wet leaves, staring up at the dark canopy with a pounding headache.
He groaned. It felt like a bowling ball was rocketing around inside his skull, and there was one spot on his forehead that felt like it was on fire.
"Ian! Are you okay?" That was Enzo's voice. Ian just groaned again in response.
Enzo's face appeared above him. It was blurry. Ian touched his hand to his forehead, right where it hurt the most, and his fingers came away slick with blood.
"You hit your head," Enzo explained.
"Rock," Ian supplied.
Neal's face appeared next to Enzo's. "We have to get you out of here. Can you stand?" he asked.
Ian glared. "Hate you," he ground out, and then closed his eyes. His head hurt so much.
"I'm sorry," Neal said, and he did sound sorry, but Ian was in no mood to be forgiving. His head was split open, he was covered in blood and dirt, he was pretty sure he'd lost his moustache somewhere on the way down the slope, and, to top it off, there was no way his parents were going to let him eat any more candy tonight.
"Jerk," he persisted through his clenched teeth.
"We didn't mean for you to get hurt," said Philip.
Enzo started laughing.
"Can you stand?" Neal asked again, "Or should we go get help?"
Ian couldn't bear the thought of his parents having to come into the woods and carry him out like a child, so he said, "I can stand," took a deep breath, and sat up.
The pain in his head doubled, and a wave of nausea swept over him. Two pairs of hands grasped his shoulders, steadying him.
"Philip, run back to Granny's and find my sister and Killian." Neal's voice was brisk, commanding. "We're going to walk back the way we came. Have them meet us."
"Ok," said Philip, and then Ian heard him scrambling back up the slope.
"We're going to get you on your feet," Neal said. "You ready?"
"One, two, three, up!"
The hands on his shoulders moved to grip him by the armpits and drag him upwards. He managed to get his feet under him, but swayed where he stood.
"Let's get this over with quick," Enzo said.
He and Neal pushed and pulled Ian up the hill. When they reached the top, Enzo and Neal stopped to catch their breath, and Ian leaned forward and vomited. Enzo and Neal yelped in surprise and jumped backwards.
When Ian was done, he straightened. "I actually feel a little bit better," he said, and then everything went black again.