Chapter Nine

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The group huddled together near the glass bridge, silent and solemn. Their backpacks laid strewn about, reminding Shade of a summer camp she'd visited in the thick forests of California. People were still skittering about, stuffing packs with rations and supplies.

Shade sat on the ground with her own backpack already stuffed, since she'd never really had a chance to unpack before the attack. It sat balanced between her crisscrossed legs, ready to go. She held onto it as a child would a precious stuffed animal or blanket for comfort. It felt like the only thing in the world that actually did belong to her. They'd risen early the day after the trial to reassemble and continue with the rest of the journey. Shade felt almost entirely healed, but her spirits remained dampened. Her head ached with everything that had happened to her. Taking comfort in her solitary spot, she watched the others frantically rushing around. At least Sary retrieved her clothes, cell phone, and charger from her old room. Shade had refused to enter it ever again. Her phone sat fully charged and put away, for there was no signal penetrating the dark stone cavern.

Her chestnut brown hair was pulled back into two thick, tight braids, making her look even younger than her seventeen years. She'd let Braelynn fuss over her this morning, even though she'd already pulled it back into a sloppy ponytail. The tight braids Braelynn had woven her hair into were intricate but restrictive. However, she could deal with it since it made Braelynn feel so useful and motherly.

Soap came by and lingered before her. His tall figure seemed gigantic while she sat scrunched on the ground. His hair was also tied back but lay in a simple half braid, with leather and beads streaming through it and shimmering under the torchlight. He was looking at her with his bright eyes, so deep in color in the dim light that they seemed to glow with their own light. "Hiya there, kid. You feelin' all right?" His voice twanged with a made-up southern drawl. He winked and tipped an imaginary hat to her.

She smiled up at him and nodded, not feeling quite as gloomy as before. He was definitely in a joking mood. "I'm okay, maybe just a bit tired. I'm not sleeping so well since...." She laid her chin on her pack as she pulled it tighter against herself and closed her eyes.

Soap sat beside her on the ground and sighed as he watched the rest of the group tidying up. He turned toward her with his smile gone and his eyes immensely serious. "Are you having nightmares?"

She nodded and breathed in slowly. She closed her eyes, still leaning her head on her pack and arms. Sleep was definitely lacking, severely affected by her anxiety and paranoia throughout the night. Every creak, every rustle made her eyes fling open and her heart jump from her chest. She resorted to sitting up in bed with a dagger in hand, just in case.

Shade wondered if she'd ever feel safe going to bed again.

"Well, let Braelynn and Sary know. I'm sure one of them can whip you up a dreamless sleep potion. It might help for the first few weeks. We're leaving in five minutes. Did you eat anything this morning?"

"Yes, I ate some toast and fruit. I wasn't too hungry, though." Opening her eyes, she sat up as she saw Dylan enter the area. His captain's uniform was gone, replaced with different leather and metal armor. It was probably his traveling armor. His helmet was also gone, but his sword was still strapped to his back. His brown tunic was soft under the leather and lacked any kind of ornamentation at all. Wrist sheaths were strapped securely on his upper arms, and as he moved, they flashed slightly, revealing silver knives. He also had a sheath strapped to each thigh, and his belt had pouches with more weapons laced throughout. He was well armed and carried a small pack strapped to his back. The long locks of hair he'd previously possessed were now cut to a standard length for a human male. Shade wondered why he was sporting the short style, especially when he was the only faery man she'd met so far who didn't have long hair.

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