Chapter Five

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The entourage filled the entranceway, with all their things spread out in massive mounds. It was almost time to leave the faeries' dwelling. Everyone was stuffing bags or strapping last-minute weapons onto their bodies. Braelynn looked up from the many small bags of herbs and ground stones she and Sary prepped, slowly arranging them in a medicine bag. The low hum of voices stopped as Shade and Soap approached the group. Sary and Stephen turned toward them and stopped sharpening their knives. Jack stood erect, ready to go. He gave them both a curt nod. No one seemed to know what to say to them.

"Guess your ears were burning, Shade, Soap. We were waiting for you," Ewan said. "Here are your sleeping tent packs, and they're all ready to go. Ilarial will be up in a moment. I'm sure she already knows you're here." Ewan's deep voice boomed like a drum, seeming to come from deep within him, like a belly laugh echoing in a large room. He walked up to them, smiling. His husky shoulders were wide, but he was not by any means fat. Shade smiled at him. He was big-boned and looked like a fluffy teddy bear.

"Thanks, Ewan," Soap answered. He was quieter now, within the group. Soap didn't seem to volunteer much information about anything, now that she thought about it unless she pried it out of him. There would be plenty of time to ask him more about faeries and himself during the journey.

"Hello," Ilarial came to stand by them, looking brilliant. "I'm happy to send you off with news of great weather to come, at least in the beginning. I sense good fortune for the start of your journey. I trust everyone is ready. Ewan will be your guide to the land of the Santirans. Your journey will be perilous, fraught with danger and a challenge to your endurance. Not many have ever traveled so far from the Guildrin mound. My heart and spirit are with you, Shade." Ilarial motioned to her to come closer.

"Shade, you're incredibly unselfish to aid us in our fight. Your entourage will take good care of you. They'll teach you the ways of our magic. You may seem fragile and harmless, but the potential to be great lies within you. Now, I send you off, my friends. Good journey!" Ilarial smiled and wrapped her arm around Shade's shoulders. Shade felt instantly alert and happy. Ilarial sure had a way of comforting others. She was like walking Xanax, Shade thought.

Ewan turned toward the group. Everyone was stuffing the last of their items away into their charmed packs, and, like Shade's, they appeared to hold many things. He cleared his throat and held his arms out above his head.

"Alright everybody, listen up, for this will not be repeated. I'll be guiding you on the path to the Santiran lands. Our stop today will be the Teleen caverns. Please stay with the group at all times. We start north until almost dusk. The Teleen are private people, and Jack has assured us of their complete cooperation. They will host us for the night. I remind everyone to keep their hands to themselves for, like Jack, they can electrocute with one touch, so be wary.

"Second, if we are separated for any reason at all, follow the North Star to the great hills of wildflowers. From there, you will find the great gate to the caverns on the northwest end of the valley. Please let them know who you are, and you will have safe passage. They have our names from Ilarial already. Good journey, everyone." He nodded, bent to grab his own pack, and slung it onto his back. He waved for everyone to follow.

Shade quickly shoved the sleeping roll into her backpack and zipped it up. She watched everyone filing in behind Ewan and cut into the line to join him, right ahead of Soap. She glanced at him as she turned her head slightly, absorbing his relaxed, smiling eyes. There was so much behind those eyes that Shade wondered about. She wasn't sure his overly happy exterior matched the soul within.

The forest floor crunched under their feet as they walked at a slow and steady pace. Some of the group was shifting into pairs while others chose to remain in single file. She looked over her shoulder to find Soap and, for a moment, couldn't see him. He had somehow snuck up and was walking beside her. He glanced over at her. Smiling, he lifted his eyebrows with a questioning look.

Ever Shade (A Dark Faerie Tale #1) by Alexia Purdy (complete)Where stories live. Discover now