Grace walked away from the house, walking as fast as she could without running, her face was burning. He had said goodbye and that was it, but then, what had she expected? For him to grab her and stop her from leaving or grabbing a hidden pack and demanding that he was going too. He was probably still standing in the doorway with his bright red face. She turned back and saw that since the farmhouse was no longer view she could run. And that’s what she did. She cut across the farm sprinting, dodging all the rabbit holes. She just wanted to get away from the house as quickly as possible. She ran until she was out of breath and had to stop; she slowed her pace and began to walk again. The drying hay itched her legs and stuck to her clothing. She stopped and looked at the map Pyter had given her.
“Walk to the big rock then the forest,” She said to herself
It was the easiest way to find the Fairies. She was still heading the right way but the rock seemed such a long way off. Josh had made it in 20 minutes when she was sick but he had been on horseback and he had almost ridden that horse to its death. The poor beast wouldn’t be able to be saddled for a while yet. Grace was feeling better thanks to the fairies but after that running, she was getting a sharp pain in her chest as she breathed in and out. Her breathing became shallow and sharp as she wheezed and spluttered.
“Grace. Are you okay?” Josh shouted to her from the other side of the field. She nodded slowly breathing in and out slowly trying to figure out who had called her name. Tired she sat down and vanished from his sight.
“GRACE!” he came sprinting to her. He scooped her up in his arms and looked at her with his pale blue eyes, “Are you okay?”
She nodded trying to get out of his embrace, she wanted to keep going and he was stopping her.
“Then what happened? I saw you fall”
“I didn’t fall,” She protested, “I just needed a rest after I did a small run. And now my chest hurts”
“Okay. You just rest for a minute then we can keep going,”
“We?” Grace questioned
“Yes silly, I’m coming with you. You obviously need me. I mean it’s only been 20 minutes tops, and you are already hurt. Without me who knows what could happen.” Grace laughed and tried to stand. Her legs gave out and she would have fallen but Josh grabbed her and held her up right like he was afraid to let her go.
“Lean on me, it’s only a 10 minute walk to the forest now. We can make it,”
“Thanks,” she whispered relaxing her head on his shoulder, “I can’t believe that Pyter let you leave like that,”
“Umm, I just left him a note. I am sure he will understand.” Grace laughed as they started to walk but had to stop as the sharp pain in her chest came back. Pyter would never have let him go if he had known, “I told Macy though. She helped me back there. You should have seen it. She was running around getting me food and everything just so I could catch up to you in time. It seemed like maybe she knew you were going to need help.”
“Yes well, she is good at knowing things like that,”
They continue to talk about unimportant matters the rest of the way to the forest. Every time Grace coughed or made him stop because she needed a break, Josh would stare at her making sure she was okay before they began to walk again. It took far longer than ten minutes to reach the forest because even though Josh was bearing most of Grace’s weight, she was still slowing her pace down and several times Josh had to wake her up as her feet began to drag along the ground.
Finally they stood in front of the line of trees that marked the end of Nacima and the beginning of Fairy Territory. The trees were a wall of browns and greens and looking beyond into the forest was impossible apart from the tiny gaps in the trees that would show their path onwards. Josh looked at Grace and she nodded, so they slowly made their way into an unknown world.