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After the witches vanished with Kailyn, my mother and I let go of Aiden. He bolted immediately for the exit and ran out of the cabin. Of course, he would head for the Sanctuary.

Tears blurred my vision as the rest of us hurried after him. I wasn’t sure what the witches were planning to attempt, but I couldn’t imagine how they’d be able to resuscitate her.

We whipped through the woods and arrived in the courtyard outside the Sanctuary. Aiden was already at the door, banging his fists against it.

“Open up!” he demanded in a shaking voice.

My mother and I tried to offer comfort, but he shook us aside. He just stood there, yelling for the witches and glaring at the locked door.

Corrine opened the door after five minutes, by which time Aiden was on the verge of breaking the door down. He barged past her and sprinted along the corridor. We followed him. My breathing was restricted, my palms sweaty as we neared Corrine’s treatment room. Ibrahim stood outside the closed door, one hand on the handle. His face was ashen. As his eyes traveled slowly from Aiden to us, I already sensed that all hope was lost.

Swallowing hard, Ibrahim opened the door, allowing Aiden to burst inside. My grandfather froze at the foot of the treatment bed. As the rest of us piled in after him, we laid eyes on the large form of Kailyn, covered with a white sheet. Aiden staggered to the side of the bed. His hands shook as he reached for the corner of the sheet. He lifted it up slowly, and as he laid eyes on the werewolf, he stopped breathing. His body became rigid, as if a witch had just cast a spell of paralysis over him, and a deathly silence filled the room. It took some time for his shock to turn into grief, but when it did, he staggered backward, his legs hitting the edge of a chair, which he slumped down into.

I hurried over to him as he buried his head in his hands, his chest and back heaving with silent sobs. I couldn’t hold back my own tears anymore. I draped my arms around his neck and kissed his cheek, holding him tight, while my mother did the same.

“I’m so sorry, Aiden,” Corrine croaked. “I’d hoped there was a chance that we could resuscitate her, but… we were just too late.”

Chapter 12: Ben

Despite the sheer size of the ogres, they were surprisingly adept at climbing down mountains. Their hands and feet were wide and tough, their skin so thick that it was almost like padding, allowing them to fearlessly gain a grip on even the sharpest rocks.

After I followed the beasts down the mountainside, it wasn’t long before we arrived at the borders of a human settlement. A ski resort of some sort. We arrived in the midst of a blizzard, which worked to the ogres’ advantage.

As soon as we reached buildings, they headed down an alleyway. I had no reason to follow them anymore. I scoured the small town, looking for a tourist shop of some sort. I found one next to a coffee shop in what appeared to be the town square. It was small and warmly lit, displaying all sorts of trinkets, but most importantly souvenir compasses, postcards, and maps. I was in Canada, not far away from Mount Logan, by the looks of it.

At least now I knew where I was. The next thing I had to do was figure out how to reach home. It was endlessly frustrating not being able to pick up any of the maps in the shop. Somehow, I was going to have to figure this out myself.

First, I had to make my way to the west coast of the country, but then once I arrived at the shores of the Pacific Ocean, I had no means of navigation. I could find The Shade in a submarine or almost any type of vessel, but without any navigation equipment? I had nothing now, just the knowledge that I needed to head westward.

Feeling overwhelmed, I reined myself in and forced myself to take things one step at a time. First reach the ocean, then figure out how to make it back to the island.

And so I headed west with as much speed as my subtle body was capable of. At some point, I had to reach the shore.

I did, in far less time than I could have anticipated. I arrived at a deserted beach, and, scanning the length of it, I knew that now I needed to find a harbor. I continued traveling and came across a large commercial port after an hour or so. I roamed around the ships, listening in to conversations and trying to figure out where each one was headed. I found one captain discussing his pending journey to Hawaii. Since this seemed to be the ship going nearest to The Shade, I stuck with him for the next few hours, until his break was finished and he returned to a massive cargo ship.

I moved on board and headed to the front of the ship, waiting for the journey to begin. To my annoyance, I waited another couple of hours. When the vessel did finally set off, its pace was horrifyingly slow. Slower than I’d ever imagined even a cargo ship traveled. I waited another couple of hours, and then, frustrated out of my mind, I found the control room and took a look at the maps and navigation equipment. I found myself again aggravated that I couldn’t reach out and touch anything in my search for directions. All I could do was gain a general sense of direction from the display monitors—though it hardly helped even in the slightest. I already knew the general direction of Hawaii, and, consequently, the general direction of The Shade.

Although the idea of getting lost in the middle of the Pacific Ocean chilled me, even that was a more tempting proposition than staying here on this snail-slow ship. With my supernatural speed, I couldn’t help but wonder whether, even with no means of navigation, traveling alone might be faster than remaining here. The vessel, in addition to being slow, wouldn’t even take me to my final destination. It would take me to Hawaii, closer to home, but I would still need to figure out the final stretch by myself.

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