CHAPTER THIRTY-FOUR: Salvation

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CHAPTER THIRTY-FOUR: Salvation

The selkies glided in silently to the lakeshore where Story indicated they should. Not only did her compass point unerringly there, but she also recognized the surrounding landmarks from her dreams. She half expected her hair to suddenly be elbow length again and a purple gossamer dress to appear on her body. But when she stepped onto the shore, she was still wearing one of Adair’s smaller two-piece sarongs. While in the water and at Vevila, she felt positively prudish and over-dressed, but standing here next to Eirnin wearing not much more than a swimming suit…

“What?” Story snapped at him when she caught him grinning at her and instantly regretted her tone. She was jittery with nerves and feeling half naked did not help.

“I’ve just decided that I’m a fan of dryad fashions is all. I’ll need to thank your mother and Adair for packing for you.” Then with a disarming wink he got to work removing the gear from the selkies and leaving it safely submerged and warded against any fey.

As for the selkies, once free of the packs and saddles they both waddled up on the shore.

Story shook her head at them. “This is hopeless. How my mother expects you two to be of any help I don’t know. You’ll just need to stay here and wait—” Her words caught in her throat as she witnessed first Pinni then Ped shudder and shift.

There was no other way to explain it. One minute there were two massive seals before her, and the next minute, once their entire bodies were on the dry land, they transformed almost effortlessly into massive dogs. It was like magic.

Well duh! Of course it’s magic. And yeah, humans got that legend way wrong…

They looked like a pair of floppy eared Great Danes, and each of them bounded over to Story and Eirnin and greeted them with sloppy kisses. Based on their size and shape, Story would have mistaken them for da’nan had they not been romping around and barking like dogs. As if to prove her point, just then Ped decided to lift his leg and mark an orange tree as his territory.

Story pinched the bridge of her nose and sighed. So much for sneaking in.

Eirnin stood next to her and watched the two boisterous dogs speculatively. “Well, if there are any fey here, they can’t see or hear us, so as far as they know, it’s just two idiot selkies making a mess of their woods. They’re a good distraction.”

He did have a point, but Story still frowned at them before consulting her compass again. The entrance should be right behind them. She turned around and took a few steps inland, enjoying the feel of the mossy soil on her bare feet. As much as she loved swimming, it was nice to be on solid ground again.

Eirnin followed her deeper into the forest, and judging by the crashing sounds of breaking limbs behind her, so did the selkies. They didn’t have to walk far, and after a few feet, suddenly it was there, just like in her dream. The wild orchard, penned in by the living fence, and the open, inviting gates. Story’s hand dropped to the dagger strapped to her thigh, as she eyed the unguarded entrance.

This is too easy.

Eirnin followed her gaze, squinted his eyes, and then looked back at her. “What are you staring at?”

“You don’t see it?”

“I see a great lot of trees if that’s what you mean.”

“No, I mean, the gate into Morrigann’s garden. Don’t you see it?”

Eirnin looked again and then shook his head. “Well, that explains why previous hunting expeditions could never find it.”

Pinni sat down next to Story and faced her with her tongue lolled out, breathing heavily. Story scratched her velvety ears and kept staring at the gate.

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