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The silver siren, p.21
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       The Silver Siren, p.21

           Chanda Hahn
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  “That’s exactly why we can’t take her with us.” Syrani turned and pointed toward the woods and the flickering, waning thread of power that only we saw. “I don’t think she’s the same person you knew.”

  Fenri gave her an ugly look of accusation. “I know her better than I know you. She’s one of us.” The emphasis that he put on the word us, made Syrani suck in her breath and blink in surprise.

  Siobhan cried even louder and started to reach out to Fenri. He stood there between the two, clearly torn.

  “Fenri, don’t,” Syrani spoke cautiously. A heated look shot between Fenri and Syrani.

  He hesitated, and it suddenly dawned on me. Syrani had fallen for Fenri. Of course she couldn’t have known that Fenri already felt attached to Siobhan. Still, the fact that she’d left for her aunt’s might have cut off their budding romance, leaving him hurt and vulnerable, open to the beautiful Denai.

  It was a silent battle of wills, and the moment lasted so long that I was left with no doubt in my mind that in the last few days Fenri had kissed Syrani. Clearly, she had given him her heart in return. Syrani squared her shoulders and in silence communicated: Her or me.

  Fenri stepped forward and said, “I have to.”

  A trickle of apprehension ran through my body.

  A warning.

  I tried to call out to caution Fenri, but it was too late.

  As soon as he reached out to grab Siobhan’s pale arm to help her up, he started to gasp for breath. His hand went to his chest and he fell to his knees in pain.

  “No!” I screamed and burst forward to confront Siobhan. She whirled on me and her face lit up in recognition. Her hand pointed at me and her finger beckoned.

  Syrani screamed and ran to Fenri as he collapsed. Her hands wrapped around him possessively and her hands glowed as she sent a healing touch through him, but he still wasn’t breathing. I could hear Syrani’s cries for help and I had no choice. If Syrani had access to power, then so did I.

  I knew what Siobhan was doing to Fenri, because I had done it enough times, but I wondered if she had ever been attacked by a ticked off Siren herself.

  Well, she was about to be. Walking slowly, I stepped in front of Fenri, cutting off the view, and I attacked her. Going for the pulsing light, I began to pull at her essence, stealing her life. She choked and stared at me, her eyes wide in fright. Attacking the very essence of either a Denai or a Siren, I had learned, was not a quick attack. It was a slow process, and the results—though devastating—took time. It was a painful way to die, and I was inwardly suffering because I didn’t have another option. It was the only way I knew to break the bond, other than distance.

  My cousin tried to cry out and she grasped at her chest, her fingernails digging into her dirt-stained shirt. Her eyelids began to flutter and I saw her head start to bob, as she stopped her attack on Fenri. Then, and only then, I released the pull on her soul.

  I watched as Fenri started to breathe again. Odin ran forward and pulled him out of the circle of onlookers, out of range. Syrani stared at the empty spot that Fenri had just vacated, her eyes glassy and filled with tears. When she turned those blue eyes on my cousin, they became filled with hate.

  “Siobhan, you don’t have to hurt anyone. Especially Fenri. We’re your family.” I held my hands up to her, showing her that I didn’t have a weapon. I watched my cousin for signs of change, but that thread of power controlling her was back, and thicker than before. Bearen came forward and started to kneel in front of his niece. “Stay back,” I warned my father. I tried to think of a way to immobilize her without hurting her.

  Siobhan started to laugh, a loud cackling that chilled me to the bone. It continued to echo forth out of her frail body. My cousin was eerily close to breaking.

  A large rock came out of nowhere and wacked Siobhan on the back of the head. She fell face first into the dirt, unconscious. At first I was worried that the rock had killed her, but I saw that it had crumpled into many tiny pieces upon impact. It was a soft blow, not a deathblow. Meant to incapacitate.

  I looked over my shoulder accusingly at Syrani who stood next to me. She shrugged her shoulders. Syrani kneeled on the ground and began to run her hands back and forth along the cool earth, as if she were communicating with it. I could see a slight glow as she sent little pulses of power through the ground and waited.

  Seconds later, she jumped up from the ground and looked to Bearen. “The girl was right. They’re coming.”

  Chapter 29

  “Who’s coming?” Bearen growled out. “Sinnendor’s Elite?”

  Syrani shook her head and looked at me, her eyes filled with uncertainty. I didn’t wait for her to answer. I reached out like Syrani had but—where she used the earth to search—I went high. I pushed my senses out toward the thread of power connected to Siobhan and followed it back. It took a few minutes of scanning, searching, even traveling at impossible speeds and it was dizzying. The farther away I searched, the blurrier the vision became.

  I wasn’t sure what I was seeing. There were many blurred and shadow beings. Horses, hundreds of horses, weapons, swords—and they were on the move. It was easy to doubt what I was seeing, and I could understand Syrani’s hesitancy in speaking out. It was a very large army and they were traveling in the night. I felt like I was zooming in and out of focus as I tried to find the anchor, the person controlling my cousin.

  Using my sight to search was taxing and it left me vulnerable to my surroundings. I was barely aware of people making plans around me. I knew that Syrani was watching me intently, waiting for me to see what she had seen.

  There! I saw a thread of purple like the one used to control Gloria at Skyfell. I followed it to a rider who sat silently off to the side of the army, focusing on a spot in the distance. He was probably doing his best to reach Siobhan’s consciousness, but since she was incapacitated, she couldn’t hear his commands.

  The rider was clearly frustrated, pulling on the reigns of his horse, trying to keep him in check, as the horse wanted to follow the hundreds of others moving in a throng.

  I was slightly confused by what I saw through my sparse sight. More threads of shadow moved around the camp. I blinked in surprise when I saw Narn scurry passed the man on the horse. So he had lied and safely made it back to his brethren. I realized what my moment of pity cost me. One more soldier in the Septori army. I should have executed him on the spot. But I couldn’t worry about him now. I needed to keep searching.

  I continued to scan and, most of soldiers were humans, with quite a few bright beacons of light symbolizing Denai. I had just about decided to stop my search when another horseman came by and spoke to the power-focused Denai.

  “So what? You lost track of one. We’ve hundreds more to see us through. Focus on them and we will soon see victory.”

  The hooded rider shook his head. “I can’t believe that one got so far away before I realized it. She stopped just inside the border of Calandry. Perhaps I can keep her there. We can get her before we cross over. She’s so much like her cousin. Not someone we can afford to lose. Without her, I can’t make more of the serum for our Denai.”

  “The Raven won’t be angry. Not when your results these last few weeks have been impeccable. Surely, there is room for a little error,” the other rider spoke.

  “Impeccable? I failed time and time again. Raven wanted another like her, and I gave provided her—even sped up the process. But now I’ve lost her, even tethered like the others. There’s something about these Sirens that doesn’t like to be tamed. Blast! Why did it have to be that one to wander off?”

  “It won’t matter. There won’t be any more Sirens soon. Come, we must catch up with the others. Either bring the girl back or release her.”

  “If she is harming our mission, I need to cut her off, but I can’t reach her,” he said through clenched teeth. “I had her. I found her. She was among a large group of people, and I used her to attack them, but now? She’s too far, I just get muddied pictures.

  My heart began to thud loudly in my chest. My head pounded and spots marred my vision. The distance was too far, and the Denai and I were both struggling with the sight. If I found it this hard to see, he was finding it just as hard to control from this distance. But it gave me answers. They hadn’t meant for Siobhan to escape. It sounded like they were moving, preparing to attack. Their pawn had just wandered off.

  “Cirrus, come. It’s time,” the other rider reached out and touched the man’s shoulder. Part of his hood slid down and I was greeted by the long bleach blond hair of Adept Cirrus. A soft wail escaped with the revelation. It was a deep, deep betrayal. But how deep exactly? Was the whole Adept Council involved?

  Cirrus growled. “As soon as I can reach her again, I’ll destroy her.”

  I backpedaled, pulling my conscious back to me as fast as I could. But not before I heard Cirrus reply. “Jay, remember not to use my name in public. It’s Albatross.”

  I snapped back into my body and I was cold, freezing. I groaned inwardly and I felt my neck pop. My head still pounding, I felt like I had been hit numerous times. Something wet dripped from my nose. I reached up and pulled my hand away. Blood smeared across the back of my hand.

  Syrani came over and handed me a small handkerchief. “You were scanning too long. Your conscious is not used the toll it takes on the mind and body. You were able to see longer than I could.” Her voice dropped off and her eyes flickered to the ground and back up to me. I knew she wondered what I saw.

  “I saw enough,” I answered.

  I used the small white cloth to wipe at my nose and I studied her expression. I could tell from the uncomfortable look on her face that she had recognized him as well. After all, Syrani was Adept Cirrus’s niece.

  “I didn’t know, I’m still in shock. I’m still…I don’t know. But you have to trust me, I didn’t know.”

  “It’s okay, we’ve both been betrayed by family.”

  “What do we do?” Syrani whispered. Her posture dropped and she looked over to my father who was organizing the men, getting everyone on horses, and moving out.

  He was furious. I could tell by the way he carried his shoulders. “What did you see exactly?” I asked.

  “An army larger than I’ve ever seen, and they are heading this way,” she shivered. “What did you see?”

  “I heard Cirrus discussing their plans. It sounds like they are heading to Sinnendor. They intend to wipe out all of the Sirens.”

  “Sirens?” she questioned. “And you could hear them? I can only see them through vibrations. I can’t actually hear anything, but I recognized my uncle’s horse.”

  I shook my head and waved my hands. “Long story, but in short, if Siobhan wakes up, she’s dead,” I finished just as Bearen overheard my last sentence.

  “She tried to kill Fenri. She’s one of them now,” Bearen said.

  “No,” I corrected. “She’s one of us and she’s being manipulated. If we can keep her from coming to long enough, we might be able to save her. But Syrani’s correct. We have to leave. They’re coming.”

  “Whoever it is,” Bearen’s voice rose in frustration, “we can handle them.”

  I shook my head and watched as Syrani paled at the thought of fighting her own kin. “No, it’s an army. Larger than any of us could imagine, and we are right in their path.”

  “Daughter! Speak clearly now, for your constant dancing around the answers is starting to give my brain blisters. I can’t keep up.” Bearen warned.

  “It’s the Septori with an army of Denai, and they are heading toward Sinnendor. So choose now father, whose side you are on, because we are standing in the middle of the battlefield. You said you wanted to go after the Septori, a chance to bring peace.”

  Bearen looked at me stunned, his mouth dropped open as he processed what I asked of him. Before he could say anything I continued, “But whatever side you choose, I’m taking my cousin back to Sinnendor. There might be my only chance at saving her.”

  “Their Elite attacked our village!” He pointed his finger into the night back toward Sinnendor.

  “And you’ve been murdering their messengers for years. I think you two are even now. But I promised myself that I would stop the Septori from hurting anyone anymore ever again. They are going to try and wipe out our kind, using Denai as pawns to do it. And they are using my blood to do it. They must be stopped at all costs. Even if it means siding with our enemy.”

  Odin had come alongside us during this exchange and had listened quietly as Bearen and I discussed our plans. He finally reached up to scratch his head and raised his hands up playfully. “Uh…you know, Bearen, what they say about enemies.”

  Bearen’s beaded eyes snapped to glare at Odin, “What… the enemy of my enemy is my friend?”

  “No,” he scoffed. “When my enemies fight, I raid their coffers.”

  Something came up behind me and Syrani made a small squeak. I turned around and was surprised by a very large horse. I felt my whole body relax as I wrapped my arms around Faraway. He was dusty, dirty, and smelled of horse sweat.

  You came, I sighed and leaned my full weight upon him.

  You needed me.

  I need Kael, and Joss, I whispered into his mane. I can’t do this without them. I can’t fight the Septori without them. Where are they? Why haven’t they returned? Do you think Kael was captured and among the… I started to lose myself in my own fear and self-doubt.

  Faraway quickly anchored me back into the present by nuzzling my shoulder.

  I don’t know if I’m strong enough for what’s to come.

  You were born with all the strength you’ll need, he stated.

  Chapter 30

  We converged upon Sinnendor’s gates in record time. We should have been cut down immediately when our heavily armed warriors appeared. But we weren’t. It might have helped that I left the Valdyrstal clan a half mile behind me. But I knew that scouts would have seen our army no matter what.

  The castle was locked up tight. I convinced my father that my resemblance to my mother may be our only chance of getting into the castle. He agreed to let me talk.

  Only my father escorted me to the gates, watching over Siobhan who was in front of him, still unconscious. Odin had been doing his best to keep her heavily medicated. Now we just had to convince our enemy to let us into their gates. Yes, it was an impossible feat, and I was not keen on letting my clan act as sitting ducks between the approaching forces.

  “Gideon!” I called out loudly. “Gideon, we need you!”

  “A strange way to ask for help,” Gideon called back down to me from the battlements. “With a full army.”

  “No, we’ve come to offer help as well as ask for it. Talk to Xiven. You know as well as I do what was on the horizon. It has come to your own door, but it’s not us. The enemy you’ve been worried about and preparing for is close on our heels. We ask you to help us with one of our own and to accept our help in the coming war.”

  Gideon disappeared from behind the wall, and breathing became difficult. I couldn’t help but feel terrified that the gates wouldn’t open. Raven and his army would appear any minute and cut us down.

  It was many anxious minutes later before King Tieren appeared, surrounded by more guards. I held my breath and prayed that today was a sane day. Tieren peered over the wall and saw me. His eyes lit up with excitement.

  “Thelonia! You’ve come back! How I knew you would, but you did something with your hair. I don’t like it dark like that. Oh, and what did you bring me?”

  My hands started to shake in anger. What a time for the madness to consume him! When I was trying to save his kingdom and his own hide. How could I help protect him when he couldn’t protect himself?

  But my brain quickly formulated a plan. “I’ve come bearing gifts. I’ve brought you an army,” I yelled back coyly.

  King Tieren frowned and looked out over the field to stare at the mass of armed men behind me. “But I’ve already got one of
those,” he pouted. “I don’t need another.”

  Bearen turned his head and whispered angrily. “What is this mad game you’re playing? He is not fit to defend this castle. We could easily take it.”

  “No sooner would you have won it, then you would have to defend it.” I hissed back. “Do you think you can fight a whole army of men and Denai? If I remember right, the Sinnendor line does not have a great history of winning. Today we need to choose our enemy, instead of fighting two.”

  I turned my attention back to King Tieren who was in a deep discussion with Gideon. I could see that Tieren was shaking his head, and then his hands pointed angrily to me. Gideon’s face was getting flushed. King Tieren’s guard seemed a little wary of us and our talk of war. I could see the reflections of spyglass lenses trained on the road behind us. I could tell from their hurried discussions and antics that they knew we were speaking the truth. They probably could see the dust cloud from the army miles away. We were asking for a miracle.

  Gideon leaned back over. “How do we know you are speaking truth? We would let you in, but him and them?” He pointed to my father and the army. “No.”

  I gritted my teeth so hard, my jaw hurt. “You said yourself that the answers to your future lie with me. Here we are, our whole clan, at your disposal, ready to fight not each other, but our common enemy. The same enemy that we’ve been battling for eternity. It’s once again come down to a battle between the Denai and the Sirens and we have made our choice which side to fight for. We know that alone, you are not strong enough for them, but I have here with me another Siren. My cousin. Proof that our gifts can be unlocked. Help me help her. We may be your only chance against your foe.”

  Even as I said the words, I could feel my heart speeding up. It was as if deep down inside me, something was waking up, reaching for the surface at the promise of a coming battle with the Denai.

  Bearen sat still on his horse. He stroked his long black beard which hid his lips and he spoke again only to me. “It’s not working, Thalia. We must leave now, before we are trapped.”

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