(This chapter takes place after Faerie Bound chapter "Can History Repeat Itself?")
I shot through the door of the wayfarer's hut like a rogue torpedo. I'd dropped the cloaking a short way back and focussed all of my energy into running.
Of all the people to run into it just had to be Mike didn't it? Not some unsuspecting elf or even the gardener, it just had to be him. And he just had to grab me didn't he?
Because that really didn't freak me out when it looked like he was going to break my neck.
Panting and still slightly freaked out by the events at the wedding, I dragged myself over to the bed. On the way I caught sight of myself in the mirror.
I had to look twice before I recognised myself.
The sasquatch would have looked less wild than I did. Black hair sticking out in all directions, face smeared with dirt and god knows what else, purple bruises under my darker-than-usual grey eyes and some very pronounced looking cheekbones. Evidently life on the run was beginning to wear on me again.
I groaned and walked back to the bed, wanting to sleep off my ordeal.
Then I spotted the cake. Neatly wrapped in a napkin and placed on my pillow. Just like the sword had been.
I laughed sardonically, that man really wouldn't give in would he? He really thought I stood a chance of coming back alive. Not that I didn't, it was just highly unlikely.
About as likely as a snowball lasting more than ten seconds in a furnace.
None the less, the cake was delicious.
Licking the last of the crumbs from my fingers, I curled up on the bed and was asleep almost instantly. The day worn me out more than I cared to admit.
Daylight came sooner than I would have liked it to the next morning. I rolled inelagantly out of the bed and landed on the floor with a "thud". The only response that got out of me was a low groan.
I was never at my most verbal in the mornings.
Reluctantly I got back to my feet and, blinking to clear my vision, ambled over to the door and peered out, waiting for Ben to arrive with the supplies. I was eager to be off, and as I stared out into the middle distance, I began to fidget.
Waiting had never been a great skill of mine.
True to his word, Ben arrived several minutes later. I, by this point, was practically going mad with impatience.
I think the cake must be getting to me. I feel like I'm going in fast-forward mode. Either that or I'm really losing my mind.
Ben looked me up and down and shook his head. I gave him an inquiring look, but he ignored me and pulled a small rucksack off his back.
"Well," he said, handing the bag to me, "seeing as you're determined to leave, I've packed everything you'll need in here. There's a false ID, a credit card, some spare money and a few other bits and pieces you may find necessary on your travels. I called the captain last night, he said he's happy to take you. You'll be working in the kitchens, so I hope you know how to peel potatoes. He'll be a hard taskmaster, but always fair. Just keep your head down, do your job and you'll be fine. Oh, and before I forget," he reached into his pocket and drew out a bar of soap and a comb. I blinked stupidly several times and he laughed, "Silly boy. Don't think I'm letting you run off without a decent bath."
Still laughing, he clapped me on the shoulder and said, "Good luck to you lad. I look forward to our next meeting." Then he was suddenly serious, "And there will be a next time, do you hear me? We won't leave you to fight this battle alone. You're one of us now, so where you go, we go. Got it?"
I said nothing, and he nodded and grunted gruffly before turning and making his way back towards the distant outline of the castle on the other side of the forest.
I stood by the door for several minutes, staring at the bar of soap in my hand without really seeing it. One of them.
What did that even mean?