Chapter Seven

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May knew they were close to Tenna when Dom's form began to change.

It was a gradual transformation, so slow and subtle that she couldn't seem to catch him in the act of changing. And then, just as suddenly as it started, it was over and Dom stood beside her in his fully human glamour as if the spirit in the woods had been nothing more than a dream.

"Mabes!" he cried, joyous as ever. He circled her in a tight bear hug and whirled her around while she laughed. "I'm so glad you came."

"I couldn't have ignored you if I wanted to. The raven you sic'd on me wouldn't take no for an answer."

From a nearby branch, Fargus gave an indignant squawk.

"He's a little intense," Dom agreed, as they broke through the trees onto a well-worn hiking trail. May recognized it as one from the system of trails that snaked out from where Tenna sat perched on the mountainside. "But I swear he only wants what's best for you. Besides, it was the safest way I could think of to get a message to you."

This made May nervous. "Right, and now that I'm here can you pleasetell me what's going on? Should I be worried?"

"No," Dom paused. "Sort of? It's complicated. Not all bad, but complicated."

"Dominic, come on."

"Just hang tight. You'll see what I mean when we get there.

May wanted to argue — to plant her feet and refuse to budge until she got some real answers. But she knew Dom well enough to know that he wouldn't purposely try to frustrate her. As they stepped into a gravel lot at the trail head, she wondered what could have happened that was so difficult to explain.

Dom's pick-up truck sat waiting for their return and soon they were rumbling back into Tenna. As they drove, May searched every street and face they passed for any sign that something was amiss. But everything about the mountain town was the same as it had been the last time she was there; humans striding alongside magical creatures in an almost utopian hideaway in the middle of vast wilderness.

The search and rescue headquarters rose into view. Dom maneuvered the truck into his designated parking spot and May had her door open before he could even put it in park. Anxiety nipped at her heels — she couldn't seem to sit still. She had to know what was going on.

"Maybe Baby!"

May turned to see Trina and Matti — the team's resident mountaineer and mechanic, respectively — jogging from the bay doors to greet them. She let herself get swept up into their friendly embraces, savoring the comfort that came with their familiarity.

"How was the trip?" Matti asked. A gentle giant, he intercepted May's pack as Dom tried to hand it to her and slung it over his shoulder without breaking eye contact. "The highway is still washed out — how did you get through?"

May laughed softly. "The hard way. The whole trip was an adventure."

"If Fargus is telling the truth, calling it an adventure is putting it lightly." Dom chimed in.

"I love the side shave," Trina said, eyeing May's hair with obvious admiration. "I never would have imagined you'd be the type but it actually suits you." Then her eyes narrowed and May knew she had spotted the scar along her scalp. "Woah, what happened there?"

"It's a very long story." May had forgotten how good it felt to talk to these people; how easy and naturally their friendship was. "So much has happened, you guys. I don't even know where to start."

"Well hold that thought," Dom forced a smile. "Because we have one more thing to add to your list of craziness."

May gave Trina and Matti an earnest, pleading look as they stepped from the bright afternoon sunlight into the shade of the large garage. "He hasn't told me anything yet and it's driving me nuts. What happened?"

"Not what," answered a new voice. "But who."

She froze. Her eyes were still adjusting to the change in light, so everything seemed a little darker. A figure stood a handful of paces ahead of her between silhouettes she recognized as belonging to other members of the team, Karin and Sean. When she squinted she saw long thin legs protruding from beneath what appeared to be layers of shawls and a cloak, not unlike Emandi's.

But the person wearing them was definitely human. Impressively long hair of glossy spun gold that twisted into loose curls at its tips escaped from beneath a deep, raised hood. May stared into a face of sharp and painfully beautiful features carved into beautiful copper skin; a pair of heavy-lidded golden eyes watched her carefully and waited for her reaction.

May had never seen this person before, but she knew who it was.

She had heard that voice before.

It took a beat for May to find her voice — to really believe what was happening.

She swallowed, her throat dry.

Her voice came out as a whisper.

"Welkin?"

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