A token of appreciation…

The father fox nodded and gave a sharp bark. He bounced forward and stopped just in front of Gregory. He settled back on his haunches and then stood. He touched his nose to the ribbon in Trudy’s hair and the little knot shifted and changed into a jewel.

The father fox settled on his feet once more. Barked once and then disappeared into the brush. The mother fox followed him, their child riding on her back. “Bye,” she called, waving at them.

“What was that about?” Alaric asked, as they waved after him.

Gregory sighed. “So long as she has that jewel on her person,” he said, his voice faint. “Ackerley can’t do that again. She’s safe from all manner of fae. If she should, somehow, end up here. He’ll know and get her back ta me.”

“As thanks for bringing back their child,” Peter said, his voice soft. He sighed and shook his head. “We don’t want to linger here. Even if those foxes call us friend, there are many threats here that they can’t stand against.”

“Right,” Alaric said. He turned and they hurried back towards the portal they’d used to enter the faerie realm.

Robin frowned. “How long will the portal stay opened?” she asked, her voice faint. When Peter gave her a wry smile, she nodded. “Which is another reason why we shouldn’t linger.”

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