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The silver siren, p.3
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       The Silver Siren, p.3

           Chanda Hahn
 

  GO! I commanded Faraway. He paced nervously in his stall, wanting to stay but needing to run.

  I’ll be fine, I lied. He ran outside.

  I tried to crawl out of the stall to see out the open barn doors, but deep down I knew it was too late. Too late for the farmer and his wife and too late for me. In that miraculous instant, I had seen what was coming and had to make a decision to save myself or try to save the farmer and his wife.

  I chose them.

  The fire was too far gone, the blaze too hot to have been caused by something as simple as a candle or lantern. The house had been purposely set on fire as a distraction. I saw Kael burst through the front doors of the farmhouse and heard the clash of steel as he met a group of hidden attackers.

  Darren and Hemi followed suit, dashing in with sword and axe drawn. Joss stayed outside and tried to smother the fire with magic. Slowly the flames were dying down. If only the screams would die down as well.

  My vision became blurry as smoke started to billow into the barn. Tears poured out of my eyes. I collapsed on the floor in pain and let the burning of my body mirror the burning of the house. How I wished I could have stopped it.

  And stop what I was about to have to do.

  A rough hand grabbed the back of my hair and lifted my throbbing head off of the floor.

  “It’s been a while, hasn’t it, Thalia?” A large grungy man scowled down at me, his clothes covered with dirt. It looked like he had been on the run. It was Talbot—Xiven and Mona’s fake father, and one of the Raven’s apprentices it seemed. But I had known he was coming. I had seen it.

  He pulled me up by my hair and I had little choice but to follow him or have my hair pulled out of my scalp.

  “You are coming with me,” he snarled.

  A man in a red robe appeared next to Talbot and grabbed me around the hands. He began tying them together.

  “Wait, what about me?” Mona yelled, kicking her feet angrily against the floor.

  “What about you?” Talbot looked at her, his eyebrow raised.

  “You can’t leave me here!” She fumed.

  “I have no orders regarding you,” he laughed cruelly. “Only her.” He motioned to me.

  Too bad, I thought to myself. I waited in pain until more Septori filtered in through the back door of the barn. By the noises coming from outside, I knew my friends were facing their own battle. So I blocked Faraway from my thoughts and hoped that Kael was distracted.

  And just as I had known what was about to happen, I knew what I was supposed to do. I let the pain consume me, let my anger rise to the surface, and I gave in to it. Gave in to the burning. Throwing my head back, I screamed painfully and released all of the built up, barely-contained power I had been holding in. I let the fire out. I let the monster out, and once I did, the pain consuming me stopped.

  The barn burst into flames, the Septori burst into flames, and Talbot screamed as he beat at his clothes to stop the fire. The fire shot across the beams of the barn.

  The Septori in a panic, tried to drag me out of the barn.

  The shriek of a horse made me glance to Faraway, and I saw him outside of the barn screaming in terror.

  He was going to try and run in to save me. With a wave of power, I slammed the barn door closed on him, keeping him out. I was going to end this once and for all. I had a glimpse of what I was becoming and I didn’t like it.

  “Burn,” I whispered and watched as the flames licked higher. Energy flowed through my body, and I could hear something just beyond my consciousness. Like a sigh being released. My body became warm, tingling. And then more pain.

  “Her eyes. Look at her eyes!” One of my captors backed away from me and ran out the side door.

  “Don’t look at her, just grab her!” Talbot screamed.

  I felt more hands grasp me and I hated it. I hated them. Looking up along the beams of the barn, I saw the main support beam.

  It was time to end this for everyone.. I gave in to the pain and anger, reached for a smaller support beam, and pulled at it. Half of the burning roof came down on a large group of the Septori. They screamed and tried to cover their heads as it fell. Too late.

  “Stop her! She’s going to kill us all,” Talbot cried waving his hands at me.

  I smirked. I was.

  Mona screamed in fright and pulled against her chains helplessly.

  I frowned. I felt a moment of hesitation at killing her along with myself. The power was a drug. I looked at her in the corner and some part of me didn’t care whether she lived or died. This was the part I had been fighting to keep inside. This is what I was becoming and I hated.

  Pulling back on the power, I shouted and tried to yank it back and contain it within myself again. The flames were less hungry, less powerful. The burning Septori were finally able to gain control and douse the flames on their body.

  The barn would still burn, still fall, but not at my command. Not yet. I felt only a moment’s regret that I had not gone through with the plan in my head, that I had not been able to kill myself and the Septori along with me. Kill the monster within me that was trying to get out.

  The roar in my ears was deafening as I pulled the power back in and the pain returned. I collapsed into darkness.

  ~~~

  And that’s all I remembered before waking up in the cave, bound and listening to the Septori discuss me.

  What had I done? I didn’t go through with it. My vision had ended and I couldn’t see my future beyond the present. Somehow I knew that even though I tried to save them, the farmer and his wife had died in that fire. What became of the rest of our group, I didn’t know. I had seen what would befall them if they stayed in the barn with me, which was why I tried to alter what I saw. I hoped I could save them if I killed myself and the Septori.

  But I hadn’t gone through with it. I’d changed my mind at the last minute and saved Mona, who was a member of the Septori. Had I lost my mind?

  Apparently so.

  I couldn’t hear the leader’s voice anymore, so I knew Talbot must have left the cave. Could he and the remaining Septori be outside laying in wait? It was still night, so only a few hours had passed. My only guess was that they were setting a trap for Kael. Why? I hadn’t seen any results from whatever experiments they’d done on him. But obviously their leader wanted us both. Could they know about our bond?

  I thought back to my conversation with Talbot in Skyfell before he escaped with a skite. He said he wasn’t going to come for me but would let me come to him. Had he changed his mind or was there someone else involved as well?

  Someone yanked the sack off of my head. I’d been so lost in thought that I didn’t hear him come over. My eyes flew open and I saw a young man with pimples. He grimaced when he looked into my eyes. He had pulled off his red robe and had it tucked under his arm. I had yet to see my eyes, so I could only imagine what they looked like to send such fear into him.

  “See? She’s alive,” he yelled over his shoulder.

  “Quick, someone’s coming. Knock her out so she doesn’t warn anyone.” The now familiar voice yelled into the darkness. The young pimple-faced Septori grabbed my head, pinched my nose, and poured a draft into my mouth.

  The taste was different. I was actually shocked to realize they’d switched tactics. It was a sleeping draft. I fought against my eyelids as huge weights seemed to tug them down.

  The young man jumped up and moved into the shadows of the cave, blade in hand. A few moments later, I saw the familiar outline of Kael at the entrance to the cave. Walking right into a trap.

  “Wait!” I tried to whisper, fighting against the sleeping draft.

  Kael kept walking, oblivious to the trap.

  I heard swords being drawn behind him. The Septori closed in.

  He was outnumbered and cornered.

  Chapter 6

  The scent of leather and musk encompassed me and I felt warm, protected. I almost started to cry. My head throbbed and couldn��t concentrating, but
I could never forget the scent that I associate with Kael.

  Only I couldn’t understand how.

  Then I realized the pounding in my head wasn’t actually my head, but the sound of horse’s hooves on a road. I was swaying side to side. Nausea hit me, and I sat up. Strong hands held onto me.

  “Stop. Please stop,” I begged.

  The horse and rider slowed to a standstill. Carefully, I held onto the saddle and slid to the ground, testing my legs. I walked a few feet on my own before going further toward a stream.

  The rider dismounted as well and followed a few feet behind me. There was little doubt in my mind as to who the rider was—no one else smelled like Kael—but I found I couldn’t bring myself to look at him. I had to know first.

  Stopping every couple of feet to regain my balance, I made my way to the stream.

  Kael never spoke a word.

  Kneeling down, I leaned over to look at my face. I couldn’t see anything. The river was rushing too fast and the sun was at the wrong angle. I saw nothing but water.

  “No!” I cried and touching the water in disbelief. Something was hideously wrong with my face and I couldn’t even see it.

  “What’s wrong?” Kael’s soothing voice finally tried to calm me as his hands touched my shoulders lightly, trying to turn me toward him.

  “Something’s wrong with my face. I’m a monster. Don’t look at me.” I tucked my chin toward my chest and closed my eyes.

  “Shh. Thalia, that’s not true. There’s nothing wrong with your face.”

  “No I heard them; they said I was a monster, Kael. I know what I heard.” I used my hands to cover my face in horror.

  Kael tore a band of cloth from the bottom of his shirt and dipped it into the cold river. He began wiping away the dirt and ashes from my face.

  Jerking from the coldness, I tried to pull away. Kael held me firmly but gently. “How am I supposed to tell you what you look like if you are covered in ashes?”

  Keeping my eyes closed, I let Kael wipe all of the dirt and soot from my face. The act was in itself kind, sensual, and completely out of character for the SwordBrother.

  When he finished, he ran his fingers down my face and cupped my cheeks. “Thalia, open your eyes.”

  “I’m scared to.”

  “I’m here, remember? I’ll keep the bad things away,” Kael said softly. “I’ve kept my promise so far haven’t I?”

  He had.

  Besides, if my eyes really were that grotesque, he could handle it.

  I opened my eyes, keeping my head down. I raised them to focus on Kael’s knees and slowly, ever so slowly, worked my way up. This was the first time that I had looked at him since last night. He was covered in soot and ash as well. One arm was bandaged, and blood seeped from a wound on his bicep. His neck had a large scratch on it and his chin was burned.

  My eyes froze on his lips as I remembered the kiss we’d shared, and a longing came over me to kiss him again. But I pushed it aside and traveled higher until I met his eyes.

  Kael’s eyes widened in surprise and his breath caught in his throat.

  I had startled the SwordBrother.

  My hands started to tremble and I grasped his shirt for dear life. “Tell me.” My voice shook. “Tell me what you see.”

  Kael started to breathe again, though his gaze never left my eyes. His thumb gently rubbed my cheek.

  “I see you, Thalia. You.”

  “What else, Kael? What’s wrong with my eyes?”

  “Nothing’s wrong. It’s beautiful.”

  “It?” I cried, confused.

  “It’s silver. One of your eyes turned silver.”

  I didn’t believe him.

  “Thalia, one is blue and one is silver.” He chuckled still holding my face.

  “Eww!” I scrunched up my face at him in disgust. “How horrible.” I would have said more, but Kael’s eyes turned stormy in disapproval.

  “I think I’ll be the judge of that.”

  He was mere inches from me and I couldn’t help but reach out to him and touch the burn mark on his face. A powerful current raced through my arm, overwhelming me as I healed the blister.

  “Ouch!” Kael jumped and stood back. Reaching up he touched his face and found the burn gone, along with the scratch on his neck. In disbelief, he checked his arm and the wound was gone.

  “I’m sorry.” I winced when I realized the power had rushed from me and shocked him.

  “This could be useful,” he grinned.

  Have you noticed that power is starting to draw to you? Faraway spoke up. It comes to you almost naturally now. You hardly ever have to pull from me.

  Unfortunately, yes. And I’m scared about what it might mean. That I’m still changing, still transforming? I thought as I mounted him.

  Kael swung himself up behind me and took the reins from my hands.

  “He’s my horse,” I grumbled, pulling the reins back from him.

  “Do you know where we are going?” Kael argued, a little more stern than he had been.

  Looking around me, I couldn’t even tell where we were.

  “Um, no,” I said sheepishly.

  “That’s what I thought,” Kael said. He tugged the reins back from me and steered Faraway onto a northerly route. Embarrassed, I had no choice but to let Kael wrap his arms around me and to lean into his broad chest. He kept a quick pace and we seemed to make good time.

  Unfortunately, I fell asleep against him and woke up a few hours later. The sun was starting to set and I had yet to see Fanny, Joss, Hemi, or Darren. I tried to clear my throat but it was dry and scratchy. Kael handed me my water bag. After taking a drink, I wiped my mouth and asked him about them.

  “I don’t know. I told them to take Mona and head immediately for Haven. I took your horse and went after you, promising that if I found you, I would do the same.”

  “You mean you left them there to fight off the Septori alone?” I gasped.

  Kael scoffed at me. “When I left, there were no Septori remaining. Except for the girl. They didn’t even try to rescue her or take her.”

  “What happened at the cave? I saw you enter and I tried to warn you. Why in the world would you walk into a trap?”

  Kael’s eyes hardened and the muscle in his jaw line twitched. “They’re dead. Well, not Talbot, but he ran at the first sight of me.”

  “But how? You were outnumbered.”

  Kael refused to speak for a moment. “It was a trap and a poor one at that.” He looked at me sideways. “I doubt you really want to know how, do you?”

  The look he gave me sent chills down my spine. I had seen him fight; I had seen Kael kill ruthlessly. I didn’t need any gory details.

  “We couldn’t save the farmer and his wife. By the time I got there, I was surrounded by an army of Septori.” Kael’s fists clenched and I reached out to touch his hand. My touch instantly made him relax.

  “I know you tried,” I spoke softly.

  “How did you know? How did you know about the fire?” Kael asked and nuzzled the back of my head with his chin.

  “Would you believe me if I told you I had a vision? I saw it before it happened, so I tried to stop it.”

  “Did you know about the Septori?” He asked.

  I had a feeling he already knew the answer. “Yes,” I whispered meekly.

  “It was why you sent me out of the barn after the farmer wasn’t it?” Kael growled into my ear. He was angry and I couldn’t blame him, but I wasn’t afraid of him.

  “Yes.”

  “You are one of the most stubborn, stupid, selfish people I know. Do you realize that?” Kael was furious and I let him vent. He needed to vent. I had put him in a position where I knew the outcome and almost made him break his promise to my father to protect me.

  “Do you realize what you did? The barn almost came down. You could have died!” Kael’s breath was coming quicker.

  My silence was all the affirmation he needed. He pulled Faraway to a stop and pulle
d me by the shoulder so I had to look at him.

  “That was you? Were you trying to get yourself killed?” His disbelief and anger made me comprehend how foolish I was.

  I dropped my head in shame. I had been trying to kill myself, and Kael must have realized that, because he wrapped both arms around me and hugged me.

  “Don’t! Don’t you do anything like that again? Do you hear me?” Kael rocked me in his arms and I cried.

  “You don’t understand, Kael. I felt the monster I was becoming rise to the surface. It loved power and didn’t care whether people lived or died. I had to try and kill it before it consumed me,” I sniffed and tried to look away from him, and not show him my silver eye.

  “You have been touched by it, but you’ve survived. You are stronger because of it.” Kael grabbed my chin and made me meet his eyes. “I won’t let the monster get you. I promise.”

  And like before, I believed him. Kael pulled back to stare over my shoulder, eastward. His eyes took on a faraway look, and I could see the muscle tick in his jaw as he pondered something.

  “I want you to come somewhere with me,” Kael said, never taking his eyes off of the distant mountains. “There’s something I need to do.”

  “Where?” I asked and turned slightly to see where Kael was gazing. It was the mountain range to the southeast. A dry and barren range with little to no life.

  “Why so many questions? This will be just a little detour,” he said.

  “What about the others? What about Hemi and Joss?”

  Kael pulled away from me. “Thalia, I promise you will get to see them again. It’s just been a very long time since I’ve been this close.” His gaze drifted to the barren mountains again, and I could hear longing in his voice. It became soft and husky. “I’m so close, yet so far.”

  Never before had he asked for something from me. Demanded yes, but asked no. What harm could there be in going with him? We would just be a few days behind the others, and I knew that with our bond it would be easier if I just went with him.

 
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