Once everyone had collected themselves and gathered supplies for the next leg of the journey we set off with big hugs from Cherry much to Rafe and Rao’s dislike. Rafe who was left with a lingering hug and a pat on his rear looked slightly disgruntled and stalked over to me with a deep thrown set on his brow and Rao, who got a pat on the head and was given a chunky dog bone and was told to be a ‘good boy’, to which Rao growled and grumbled at Cherry who merely laughed which made me smile, I would miss her tinkling laughter.
And so we were journeying, again, third time lucky.
Rafe walked next to me and I couldn’t help but notice how close he was to me, the proximity itched under my skin. I stop myself before I reach out, no. This isn’t what I should be feeling right now. I should be focussed on my new task finding out about them. My parents and I was going to start by going back. As much as I hate the idea as far as I’ve gotten now. I need to go back to my grandmother.
I stop and turn to Rao who had been trotting behind, he halts in his step and looks at me meaningfully, tail wagging, the clump of hair slowly growing back after the past week. “I need to go back.” Is all I say and he nods his shaggy head, eyes glinting in the sun and stretching out his back with a low satisfied yawn. “Off we go then, girl.” And he trots ahead leaving me slightly speechless and Rafe looking even more puzzled. A sigh escapes my lips and we plough on back through the meadow.
With a clearer and less delusional mind I notice that the Faery market is roaring with life as we pass through the field that I woke up in. I notice Rafe has stopped and is talking to a dark cloaked man yet Rao marches on ahead and I nearly lose sight of him as I stumble my way through the crowd, apologising as I step on toes and knock wings.
We reach the bank of trees with the dusty path twining into the greenish darkness. “Rafe will be with us shortly. He has some business to attend to, why don’t you have a walk around?” Rao’s voice emanates from the shadows and I shiver in the cool breeze. I don’t stray too far and so go to the nearest stall which appears to be full of crystals and gems. My Grams had taught me from a young age all the types and what they can do for you. Agate is supposed to be strengthening, amethyst brings stability and carnelian is healing.
Then I spot it, black tourmaline, helps reduce negative energy and protect from it, this stone is his. Rafe’s. My skin tingles as I run my fingers over it, and then I spot mine though I despise it for being associated with vampires, lapis lazuli, supposed to help enhance psychic ability and encourage clarity and inner peace. Though it hasn’t done much before. Running my fingers over it I feel a dull throb as I always do when touching my stone, I noticed that the stall has it attached to a simple black rope twined through it so it can be a necklace.
“Would you like to buy them, I can give you a great deal?” a young girl, younger than me speaks up, her hair tumbles down her back with purple tips and highlights. I smile at her and she smiles back with little pointed teeth, she must be a phouka, I think as I notice her pointed furry ears poking out through her hair. “What’s the price?” I ask cautiously, the phouka are a mischievous bunch. “Well,” she pauses “it could cost a piece if your hair, a favour, your name” the list continues and I take a moment to think about it, either way it is a hefty price. To give someone a piece of my hair would mean they could use it against me or make me do something, the same with my name and the favour.
“How about we exchange names, and I give you a piece of my hair?” I suggest. If we exchange names then there is no need for her to use it against me. She ponders for a while smoothing her hair and running her fingers through it peering from the crystals to me. “Deal. My name is Luciana Jezebel Wilde and yours?” she looks directly into my eyes, hers flash red then go back to their deep purple with a cat-like gleam. “Dahlia Pythia Arcana.” I choke out my middle name, it was my mother’s and it was also the name of the oracle of Delphi in ancient Greece. She smiles a tight smile and gives me a pair of scissors; I cut a small lock of hair from the back and hand it over as she finishes wrapping up the tourmaline and hands over the lapis by its string. I hand over the hair and place the rope around my neck tucking the gem into my top. I nod a curt goodbye and so does she.
Making my way back to Raoul, Rafe joins me. Startling me at first by touching my shoulder, his hand whispering on the edge of my neck. “I have something for you.” I interrupt, before he starts to speak and hold out the package. He takes it from my hand careful not to touch me and I can’t help but frown in disappointment. “Thank you.” Is all that is said between us until we reach Rao, he opens the package and stares at the stone, his eyes soften as he looks at me, “It’s your stone, I thought you might need it.” I stumble over my words as he draws nearer placing his hand on my cheek, my breathing deep. “Thank you.” He whispers as his eyes search mine but he steps back too soon as Rao comes out of the bushes. “I have arranged transport for our journey.” His head nods into the trees and I follow, before us was an elaborate carriage, one I’d seen before. I remember it being at my Gram’s house, Cassandra the vampire queen’s. I sigh deeply, great; this is going to be awkward.