Gender: Male Age: 53 Location: Las Vegas, Nv
|Introduction: Under Attack, Story time, The Ending|
My advanced class had gone smoothly, but I had started noticing things. The streets were… thinner, with fewer people. They were quieter as if waiting for something to happen. When I extended my senses as far as I could, I could feel the rangers but at the very edge there was something… it was making me uncomfortable.
I walked to John, “Something doesn’t feel right. Have Peter keep everyone in the other building this morning, they can help fix up the rooms. Make sure they have a few swords at the doors. Get everyone out of the manor and block the doorway to the river. I want you to stay by the kitchen with the rifle I gave you. If something happens get inside and shoot out the doorway.”
I looked at a distracted Sylvan standing with his bonded as Elizabeth slipped under my arm. I glanced down at her smiling, “Did the girls chase you out of bed?”
She grinned, “Cat started a tickling fight and I had to retreat.”
I laughed as I glanced around again. I looked at her, “Where are your weapons?”
She looked at me sharply, “In the room.”
I nodded to the entrance, “Go put them on. I want you wearing them anytime you leave the room. I don’t have a good feeling about today so be careful. Oh, and send my bond daughters to mom.”
As she headed back to the room, I crossed to Sylvan, “I see you managed to hold your own with Jenny today.”
He laughed as he turned, “I think she was feeling sorry for me.”
I smiled as I looked at Jessie and Saline, “I want you two to stay close to the entrance into the Keep. If anything happens go into the first room. Go warn the children to stay in the nursery.”
I looked at Alonia for a minute and paused, “Alonia, get with John, I want you and Elexia to have one of the admantium swords. Stay close to Sylvan.”
I looked at Elexia, who looked back expressionlessly. I smiled and stepped closer, for some reason I liked this elf/drow, “Elexia, find the woman named Ann. Ask her if she has any grey or brown clothing. I want you blending into the surroundings here and not standing out. Keep your bow and have Sylvan find you some more arrows.”
I hesitated and then gently cupped her face, “I want you with Sylvan unless something happens. If it does, go to my daughter and protect her. She can not protect herself yet, you must be her protector. Will you do that for me?”
Slowly her face relaxed and she smiled, “You trust me?”
I nodded, “With my life and the lives of those I hold close.”
She nodded smiling as Alonia’s hand slipped into hers, “I will do as you ask.”
I looked at Sylvan, “Your parents should be here shortly, get moving. If anything does happen, guard the entrance.”
He grinned and bowed, “Yes master.”
I swatted him on the shoulder as I turned and went towards the entrance into the Keep. I met Beth and Amanda coming out. I stopped them an idea coming to mind, “Amanda? Could you do me a favor?”
She grinned mischievously, “yes father.”
I blinked and then grinned, “Smarty. I want you to get your mother’s children and grandchildren that learned how to shield together. Put half in the building across the river and the other half in the grotto. If something happens this morning, I want a shield around the building and the grotto. I don’t know if your grandmother will be here this morning or not so talk to your mother if you need help. Can you do it?”
She looked at Beth and nodded, “Yes father.”
When I came into the hallway, I saw my father sitting at the desk with Mary. I smiled when I reached him, “You look tired.”
He grinned, “Sarah had two women come in ready to give birth.”
I looked at Mary and back at him, “Any problems?”
He shook his head, “No, everything went as it should.”
I smiled, “Mom should be able to be moved to the room Ann set aside for you.”
I glanced back down the hall and frowned, “Dad? You and mom stay in the clinic this morning please. I… I think there is going to be trouble and I want the two of you safe.”
He looked at me no longer smiling as I undid the shoulder holster and handed my pistol to him and then pulled the spare magazines out and set them on the table, “Just in case.”
My father frowned, “What are you going to use?”
I smiled, “I am headed to my room for the girls. I have another there.”
He nodded and stood, “I’ll be in with your mother.”
I looked at Mary, “Any sick or injured?”
She shook her head, “No. Do you really think there will be trouble?”
I nodded, “Yes. Try to get the Mair for runners and any helpers you can for any injured we may have. Send anyone else to the lower floors. Have Sarah, Casey and Jen somewhere close.”
I left her and went quickly to my room. The girls were sitting by the fire fully dressed and armed. I crossed to the table and picked up the holster and pistol. I put it on and settled everything before turning to the girls and holding out my arms.
I hugged them and sighed, “You girls be careful today. Elizabeth, I know you are not going to like this, but if anything happens I want you in the grotto. Your daughters will be putting up a shield there. I want you there to watch the exit out of the grotto in case anyone or anything tries to come in that way.”
I looked at Cat, “I want you up here by the door leading to the stables. Be careful and don’t take chances.”
I looked at Sam, “The clinic landing, stay back from the doorway into Antizel’s work room. If they come through from Pendar’s stop them at the door in the stairwell.”
Sam rubbed my chest, “Where will you be?”
I jerked my head up, “In the Keep. They will have to come past me to get to the stairs. I will have Sylvan guard the lower entrance.”
Cat looked into my eyes, “And our people?”
I smiled at her before giving her a kiss, “Our people are being told to stay inside. Half of girls are going to the new building so if something does start they will shield it. Peter also is having swords handed out for men by the doors and John will get everyone out of the manor and block the river door and then protect the kitchen with the hunting rifle.”
I looked at them and gave them another squeeze before letting them go, looking back at Cat, “Shall we go wait for your aunt and uncle?”
We were quiet as we walked back downstairs. I looked at Cat, “who won the tickle fight?”
Sam burst out laughing as Cat grinned, “They all ganged up on me, so they did.”
Sarah was beside Mary when we came out of the stairwell. She grinned, “Good news?”
We laughed and Elizabeth pointed to Cat, “Not for Cat, she lost a tickle fight to our daughters.”
Sarah and Mary laughed as we walked out. Sylvan, Jessie, Alonia and Elexia turned to us as we emerged. I glanced around, but didn’t see Saline, “Jessie? Where is your shadow?”
She grinned as she held Elexia’s hand, “Saline is in your exam room. She was knocked down by a bunch of little girls running and screaming down the stairs, yelling that Cat was after them. She’s taking a bath.”
I smiled and turned to Sylvan as several elves entered the gate and looked around, nodding to us. A moment later a large party of elves entered. I saw all the nobles from before with a dozen guards spreading out. I relaxed and extended my senses as they approached.
When they reached us, the group split apart and two stepped forward. I noticed the resemblance to Sylvan right away, what struck me though was his mother. She was beautiful and carried herself as if she were a dancer or a well trained fighter. She seemed to be trying to ignore everyone around them as she embraced her son.
His father was smiling, but I got the impression he was evaluated everything around him. His glance at me, swept past as if I wasn’t there. He focused on Sylvan’s bonded and he frowned slightly at the sight of Jessie, “A Mair Sylvan?”
Sylvan stepped back from his mother, frowning but Jessie beat him, “I am not a Mair… father.”
He blinked in surprise and Sylvan’s mother laughed, “Aurtha, how many times do I have to tell you. If you speak first and listen second, it will end with you putting your foot in your mouth.”
He looked at her grinning, “I do have that habit.”
He bowed to Jessie, “My pardon daughter, I have many bad habits.”
She grinned as she shifted closer to Elexia, “That’s okay, I’m still training Sylvan too.”
He blinked and Sylvan’s mother started laughing again as she stepped up to Jessie, “I think I am going to enjoy having you for a daughter.”
Jessie smiled sadly, “Sylvan says I… I can only be his bonded.”
Sylvan’s mother looked at her thoughtfully, “Perhaps, but I don’t really think that matters now. My name is Karianna, call me Kari.”
She looked at Elexia and Alonia, “You girls are the ones that were unlucky enough to bond with Sylvan yesterday?”
Elexia stirred but calmed as Jessie squeezed her hand. Alonia tilted her head, “Unlucky?”
Kari smiled as she looked Sylvan, “Knowing my son he is already planning to hide you away.”
Elexia looked at Sylvan and back at Kari, “He would have to get Jessie’s permission.”
Kari blinked in surprise as she looked at Sylvan, “Something you haven’t told us son?”
He turned red and then suddenly laughed as he bowed to Jessie, “My pardon love. Mother, father my bonded are Alonia, (he gestured to her) Elexia, (again he gestured) and our bond leader Jessie. Mother, Jessie is also a healer so her schedule is very full. I was hoping you would consent to helping her learn about… court.”
Kari laughed, “You mean how to ignore the insults.”
Jessie shifted uncomfortably, “I don’t intend to ignore them. When father is done training me, they will not be that… (she looked at Alonia) unmannerly?”
Alonia smiled while Kari and Aurtha laughed. Aurtha looked at Sylvan, “Her father?”
Sylvan was grinning as he turned to me, “Father, Mother, this is my master, Michael White Hawk. I asked to be his squire. So far, his young trainers have kept me in my place, while I still can’t keep my weapons when I face him. Next to him is the mage Elizabeth Stormcaller. Michael’s apprentice’s and other bonded Sam and… Cat. I owe them more they I can ever repay.”
Kari looked surprised, but Aurtha stepped forward extending his hand, “I have heard quit a bit about you.”
I smiled as I took his hand and shook it. He turned to Cat and knelt, “Niece, I owe you more then I can ever repay as well.”
The nobles that had accompanied him had gasped and quickly knelt, “My brother will never…”
I felt them coming and jerked Cat away, “Shit! Sylvan, warn the rangers! The drow are here in strength. Your highness, please go into the hallway.”
I looked at John standing by the kitchen as I spun towards the entrance to the Keep, “Inside John, we have company!”
At the entrance, I pushed through a crowd, “Break this up! We have trouble coming, get away from the entrance. Sarah! Get ready for wounded!”
I turned to the girls, “Elizabeth the grotto, Cat the stairway to the stables, Sam the door into the work room. I love you so be careful.”
I glanced back as Sylvan was shoving elven nobles into the entranceway. “Good luck Sylvan!”
I turned and ran, hitting the stairs at a sprint. When I got to the top, I was surprised to find I wasn’t winded. Darren and Jeremy were talking in the first room about classes, “You two, go upstairs and make sure everyone stays away from the windows!”
I didn’t wait for a reply. I stepped to the door and opened it. Sylvan’s rangers were slipping through the gateway. As I took a knee my hybrid slipping into my hands and Cat appeared to me in my mind. From the way she gestured I knew Elizabeth was ready and a shield was in place in the grotto. I felt the shield in the building across the river go up and prayed the drow would pass them by.
It was only a moment later when they hit. They rushed through the gate and I shot the first and arrows started taking others. I shot two more, feeling Cat’s surprise as she killed one before she was even aware she had fired. I felt Elizabeth’s anger as she faced something and knew she was using magic and not her hybrid.
There seemed to be a pause before another wave struck. It didn’t even manage to get completely through the gate before they were killed. I felt Sam’s surprise and then anger as she started shooting. Another wave came over the wall, surprising the rangers. Several were injured, but I managed to keep the drow off them, until they could get through the door, “Go down the stairs and someone will help you.”
I shot a drow that suddenly appeared next to the door and scanned the area around the gate. An elf ranger appeared next to me, “The kings rangers come.”
I glanced at him, he had the stub of an arrow sticking out of his shoulder as he held a sword in his other hand, “You need to get below and have that removed. See one my daughters to get the wound healed.”
He looked at me for a minute and grinned, “You don’t happen to have one not bonded do you?”
I smiled as I continued to scan the area, “As a matter of fact I do. She happens to also be a mage though so you would probable have to go all the way down to the grotto.”
He laughed, “So... when the king rangers get here maybe I will.”
I shook my head laughing as the hybrid came up. The drow just seemed to appear in the yard. I shot four of them, before the rangers reacted and they slipped away. This was beginning to irritate me. I stood changing the magazine and then I calmly walked out the door as I put up my shield and started pulling magical energy to me.
The dozen drow that appeared around me probably thought I was an easy mark. Three in front of me were smashed back by the hybrid. The rest didn’t even have time to scream as I released the anger on my shield and it went from white to and angry red before exploding and killing the drow as they were engulfed in globes of fiery plasma.
My magic reached out and out, until it hit the wall where it seemed to climb to the top and glowed sullenly. Elves came pouring out of the Keep moving towards the gate where they hesitated and glanced back, “Can we go through?”
I was already releasing my magic, my senses told me the drow were leaving. I nodded and turned back to the Keep. As I came in the wounded elf stood up, “Well that was interesting.”
I smiled as I walked past him and started down the stairs calling up to Jeremy, “Jeremy! It’s safe!”
Cat met me on the landing of the next floor. I embraced her and gave her a kiss before heading down again, “Did you leave someone at the stairs?”
She nodded as she fell in beside me, glancing at the elf following me, “Pick up a stray?”
He laughed, “He said you have a daughter that was a healer and that she isn’t spoken for yet.”
Cat looked at him and suddenly laughed, “Ginger? This I have to see.”
We found Sam looking over the shoulder of Aurtha as he watched his guards in the work room. I kissed Sam, “Little thief, not picking his pocket are you?”
She grinned, “No, although I had to be very strict with him when the drow came through the door.”
Aurtha looked at me grinning, “I think she said something about paddling my butt if I didn’t get out of her way.”
Cat and I laughed as I pulled her into my arms and kissed her again and then gave her to Cat. I looked at Aurtha, “Where did Sylvan put your wife?”
He smiled, “I believe she is in that first room with your parents and several of your daughters. They were helping the wounded and seemed to be having a good time talking.”
I shook my head, “Are you needed here?”
He shook his head, “I sent a company of guards down the tunnel. I was just having my personal guards checking these to see if Sam left anything for them to do.”
I smiled as I turned, “Sam? Why don’t you and Cat, take him up to the nursery and I’ll be there as soon as I get everyone else.”
In the hall, I stopped at Mary’s table, “Anyone I need to see?”
Mary looked up and suddenly grinned, “No, the few that were serious, your father looked at and the girls healed. We’re looking good right now.”
I nodded, “Send runners and let everyone know it’s over and let’s try to get things back to normal.”
I saw Sylvan, Elexia and Alonia at the entrance with several rangers standing around outside, “Sylvan? It’s over, let your rangers handle it. I sent your father to the nursery. Send someone to John and then across the river to let them know. I need to know if they had any problems across the river.”
I poked my head into the first room. Ruby was standing on a chair next to a bed with a laughing ranger lying down. My father was beside her, “No grandpa! Just relax and extend your feeling… you know, feel how his body is and then raise the display.”
Everyone else in the room laughed as a colored mass rose out of the ranger. Ruby sighed, “Grandpa, you’re hopeless.”
I couldn’t think how she knew how to do it except through the bond and laughed, “That’s not fair sweetie, old people take longer to learn.”
Amber, Jade and Ruby all squealed and ran to me, “Daddy!”
As they crashed into me, I glanced around the room. Mom was sitting with Lady Kari, Jen, Cassy, Sarah and Saline. In the bath sat Jessie with her arms crossed. I hugged the girls, “I need you angels to take your grandparents to the nursery with the Lady Kari.”
Jade looked up at me, worry in her eyes, “Is there going to be more bad people?”
I shook my head, “They ran away.”
She grinned as she looked back at the bed with the ranger just getting off it, “I told you daddy would scare them off.”
The ranger laughed, “That must have been it.”
Amber shifted as mom and dad came up with the other girls, “Father? We had strange feelings when… our sister… when Jen and Jessie did their healing.”
I looked up at Jen, “Did you feel them Jen?”
She shook her head, “We had Cassy shield us just in case. Samuel hasn’t gone over how to… bring a new healer into the healing with us.”
I nodded, “Ask him to check my pets will you?”
Amber and Ruby put their hands on their hips, “We are not pets!”
I laughed and ran my fingers through Jade’s hair, “Go on girls. Take them up to the nursery. I’ll be up as soon as I get your mother.”
I looked at Saline, “Saline, why is Jessie in the bath?”
Saline smiled at me, “Well, after I stopped her from going out to Sylvan the third time. Kari suggested taking her clothes and making her go into the bath. She hasn’t tried to leave since.”
I laughed and gestured to Jessie, “It’s over now, you can let her out and give her clothes back.”
I started to turn and stopped, “Sarah? Why don’t you come up as well?”
She smiled and nodded. At the stairs, I found my wounded ranger. “Didn’t want to go down by yourself?”
He grinned, “I thought I would be safer with you present.”
I found all the elf nobles on the bottom floor milling around, “Its over, why don’t all of you take this outside.”
We watched as they hurried to the stairs talking about speaking with the king. I looked at the ranger as we continued down the hall, “How does Aurtha put up with them?”
He laughed, “They know that when he has had enough, he starts sending messengers; meaning them, to far away places for strange things like a simple writing feather.”
I laughed as we walked into the grotto. The ranger had quieted when we came in. There were only a few people living here since Ann had started moving them to the other building. There were Mair walking calmly that only waved and continued to walk. When we reached the clearing in the center of the grotto he stopped me, “Master?”
I looked at him as he looked at the ground and then back at my face, “I knew Elvan before he went missing. I have been with my prince for a long time. Both have changed much since you have entered their lives. They are more concerned in helping others and they are calmer.”
He laughed, “Especially Elvan, although since he bonded, the prince is more relaxed as well. Now that Alonia and… and Elexia are with him, he is even more caring. This place… and you are special, we elves take much for granted but now you are changing that. I will ask the prince to release my oath. I wish to help, to be a part of this. I would like to learn and to teach.”
He grinned, “I was only half serous about your… daughter.”
I smiled as I waved him on, “What’s you’re name?”
We were walking up on Elizabeth and her daughters and granddaughters sitting in a group. Elvan, James, his father, Teral and another Elf were sitting with them but were talking to several Mair. I smiled at my wife and held out my arms, “Love?”
She looked up and grinned as she stood, “what took you so long?”
I laughed and kissed her, “I kept getting delayed.”
I looked down at Cynthia and Thomas, “Lover? Thank you for keeping her safe.”
I could feel her caress and smiled as I looked at Ginger, “Daughter, I brought a ranger that only wanted to be healed by my unattached daughter. He was quite insistent that he meet you.”
She looked from me to Garith and with a straight face, “Is he house broken? You know how hard Jen has been working to train Elvan.”
The elves sitting with them fell over laughing as Elvan laughed and protested. Garith grinned, but I noticed he was looking more at Amanda then Ginger. Ginger stood and stepped closer and she placed her hand on his other shoulder and looked close at his shoulder, “Could you remove the arrow father?”
I reached into Garith and pressed on the nerves and then taking the stub of arrow sticking out I pulled. Garith grunted but said nothing as it came free and started spurting blood. Ginger’s healing magic swept over us and it stopped bleeding. I watched the wound close and smiled as Garith sighed. Ginger looked into his face, “Better?”
He nodded, “yes, thank you.”
She grinned, “Still think you want to meet me?”
He grinned back but shook his head and leaned forward, “I think you are beautiful, but could you tell me who the girl that was sitting next to you is?”
Ginger laughed as she turned to Amanda, “Amanda? I scared him off. He wants to meet you instead.”
Amanda smiled wickedly as she looked up, “Has he asked mother and father’s permission yet? That’s what Elvan did, although Jen did say he tried to buy her first.”
Everyone was laughing again, but Garith bowed to Amanda and turned to Elizabeth and me, “Master? Mistress? I ask your permission to court your daughter Amanda.”
Elizabeth looked at me smiling. I turned to Amanda and held out my hand. She stood and walked to us wearing a grin, “Yes, father?”
I looked into her eyes, “Seriously Amanda. Do you think you are ready?”
She smiled as she gently touched my cheek, “perhaps not for… not to be intimate. I have watched mother with you and I have watched Jen and Cassy. If he would like get to know me then I will listen to what he has to say and make up my mind like you told us.”
I nodded and looked at Garith, “You heard her. Pay attention to what she says, but more importantly, listen to what she doesn’t.”
I turned to Elizabeth, “Family meeting in the nursery. I think it is time I told my story to all the girls.”
She smiled as she took my arm and turned towards the Keep entrance, “I’ll try to keep you from exaggerating too much.”
I laughed as she looked back, “Elvan? Girls? Family time in the nursery.”
Cynthia was walking along side us, “Chosen? The Mair ask if they can come too.”
I nodded, “Of course, are you staying or disappearing to find some available tom to sooth you?”
I heard her laugh as Elizabeth squeezed my arm, “Love, sometimes a lady just needs attention.”
At the hallway leading to the door into the nursery there were a dozen guards standing around. I stopped, “This is not going to do, either you go into the nursery or wait outside.”
They looked at each other and then shrugged. Opening the door into the nursery they went in. Elizabeth and I followed them in and as soon as I came through the door all the girls shrieked and ran for me. Elizabeth started laughing as they knocked me over trying to hug me. I was laughing so hard that I couldn’t pull them off. Cat and Sam came to my rescue and we finally got them settled.
I looked around to realize that there were a lot more people here then normal. Little Melissa took my hand and started pulling me towards the girls play area as I laughed and sat pulling her onto my lap, “Listen up!”
I waited until it quieted, “I’m going to tell a story I want you to hear. For me it is a special story.”
I had decided to try something with my magic and gathered my thoughts before calling out, “Anon.”
All the lights died and the children screamed and cried. I projected my illusion into the air in the center of the room. It looked like I stood in a sunny meadow, “Quiet!”
The sound echoed from the walls even though that too was illusion. The room went silent, the figure of myself slowly turned in a circle until everyone had seen him, “Daughters and guests, this is a story of beginning. Of my beginning, it is full of many things, horror, shock, anger. It has adventure and excitement, but most of all it tells of love. Will you listen to my story?”
The figure stood waiting and there was a murmur before Krystal spoke up, “I want to hear it father.”
That was all it took and all the other girls chimed in with the same thing. The figure bowed, “Sometimes it will get dark but do not fear, there are many here to protect you.”
The scene faded and slowly another took its place. It showed a burned out building and a figure lying in a room. I looked away and around the room as my story here began. Even as my story started, people were coming into the room. Most were my adopted daughters, but there were others, neighbors and people I had come to know. Sam drew my attention back to the story, “Michael? That is a little exaggerated don’t you think?”
I looked up and smiled. The story had stopped, it was me in the Marketplace. It showed Sam as she was trying to pick my pocket. She was dancing around with her hand stuck in my pocket, her figure was greatly exaggerated and she had long hair down past her waist. The children were all laughing as the figure put his hands on his hips and stuck out his tongue. He waved his hands and the scene started over again, this time like it was supposed to.
I glanced at the door when the mages entered and froze, looking at the illusion. They shifted around and broke up into groups, I saw Artimas and Summer, Edward and Selina and then there was Nathen with Virginia’s grandmother and grandfather. All the children started laughing and again Sam called out, “Michael?”
I glanced up to see myself swimming in the air. The figure sighed and waved and he was again moving across a roof top heading for Schaffer’s. When the door opened again and a woman came in, I was surprised to recognize Virginia, Talia, and Rosie’s mother. She looked around and moved to a clear space before sitting and looking around. I glanced around to find her mother sitting not to far away holding Talia’s hand.
When the girls started laughing again a few minutes later, I looked up to see a smaller Cat dancing around the bond merchant hitting him with a broom. I laughed but Cat cleared her throat smiling, “Michael?”
The scene stopped with my figure standing with his hands on his hips looking at Cat, “But you could have.”
Cat shook her head smiling, “Do it right.”
He sighed and waved his hand and the scene went back to what really happened. I glanced back to the wall behind me. John, Ann and Julie were holding hands with their children in their laps. I hadn’t even seen them come in. I squeezed Melissa and lifted her off my lap, whispering, “Keep watching sweetie, someone needs my help.”
I carefully moved until I was behind the triplet’s mother and reached out to lightly touch Virginia. She turned to see who was there and I waved at her. She smiled and stood up walking towards me. When she reached me, I pulled her head down and whispered that I wanted her to sit in this woman’s lap. She looked at me curiously, but did as I asked, even leaning back against her as she accepted her in her lap without complaint.
Everyone started laughing and I looked up to see dwarfs in a courtyard, hammering away on tiny dolls and Cat doing a dance around them wearing a bright red and yellow outfit. Cat laughed, “Michael?”
The scene stopped and my figure laughed as he waved his hand. I looked back down to see Virginia’s mom, unconsciously stroking her hair. I reached out again to Rosie and when she looked, I gestured. She slipped over to me and I whispered for her to sit next to the woman and hold her hand. Rosie looked at me and nodded, I watched as her mother almost unconsciously put her arm around her.
When the room roared with laughter again, I glanced up to see myself dancing with Sam, Cat and John. There were comic ogres and trolls who seemed to fall over all the time and a dragon with its tail cut off staggered and stumbled across the scene. I heard the Legate laugh and call out, “I thought you said that wasn’t real.”
The scene froze and my figure stood up. He looked at Sam and Cat, “Loves? I can try to temper it slightly.”
Sam and Cat looked at each other and then Cat nodded. Sam turned to my figure, “Try not to scare the girls to bad, but they should know.”
The figure bowed and waved, the room darkened and I stepped into the hallway, my sword in hand. The room stayed quiet as the scene played out. I reached out to Talia and when she looked, I gestured and she scooted over to me. I whispered for her to sit with the woman and her sisters. As she moved forward sitting next to her, she leaned over whispering, “I’m scared.”
I reached out to the triplet’s grandparents who turned to look my way. I quietly slipped up next to them whispering quietly, “Catherine, you and your husband go sit behind your daughter. I don’t think she knows that the girls she is holding are her daughters.”
Catherine looked at me and then looked over to see her daughter and granddaughters. She smiled as she saw them and pulled gently on her husbands hand before quietly doing as I asked. I smiled to myself as they settled quietly behind her and her mother hugged her. I slipped across the room and sat beside Sam and Cat. Cat leaned over with Samantha in her lap and whispered, “We saw that.”
Sam leaned against my other arm, just as the room again broke out laughing. A dragon was flying around in a large room, bumping into walls and hiccupping fire down its throat while Amanda stood behind my figure with her tongue out and her fingers in her ears jeering and making raspberries at the clumsy dragon.
I looked down to see Amanda lying on her back laughing so hard she couldn’t talk. I cleared my throat and the scene stopped as I faced myself, my figure looked at me, “Well they wouldn’t know and Amanda is laughing to hard to complain.”
I shook my head and my figured grumbled and waved the scene back to what was supposed to be. I glanced at Sylvan and his bonded to see them sitting comfortably with his mother and father. The room was getting crowded but people made room for new arrivals. The scene paused a little later as my figure opened the passageway into the grotto. He solemnly looked at Elizabeth, “Elizabeth?”
I moved over and held her in my arms as she thought and then nodded, “My children and grandchildren need to see and understand.”
My figure bowed and looked around, “Children, what you are about to see is very painful for Elizabeth, your grandmother. It is something that haunts her and many of you have lived through similar things. Remember this and look around this room, those here will not allow it to ever happen again.”
“This will never happen to her or you ever again. It does not matter if you are young or older. It does not matter if you are not really my daughter, because I have opened my heart to you and made myself your father. Now sit quiet and hold hands.”
The scene began again and the room remained in silence as it played out. The only time anyone said anything, was when my figure was thrown back from Elizabeth as I freed her from her chains. When it was done and had gone on to another scene, Elizabeth leaned against me whispering, “Thank you for coming love.”
I squeezed her and just held her, but in only moments she was pulling away and laughing along with everyone else. Aurtha cleared his throat, “Excuse me, but since no one has said anything, was that what really happened?”
Many of the people in the room broke out laughing as James leaned around his father, “I was there and that is exactly what happened.”
Aurtha looked at me, “You spanked him in front of the whole city?”
I grinned and nodded. He laughed as he looked at his son, “Sylvan, I suggest you pay attention to his classes and avoid large public areas.”
Everyone laughed as he bowed to the figure in the illusion and the next scene began. As the scene continued, I sat back and relaxed, letting Sam, Cat or Elizabeth catch the illusion when it strayed. Sam and Cat suddenly moved over against me and I looked up to see myself at the door into the work room.
The scene had stopped as my figure again looked out, this time at me, “You are not invincible, but this is very scary for the children.”
I nodded and he turned to look around, “Children, hold each others hands, this will not be pleasant.”
I watched as I again entered the workroom and fought invisible undead and was wounded. The room was not silent as they watched my struggle. My daughters cried quietly and were held by anyone close to them. When it was over, the room remained quiet as we made our way down a seemingly endless tunnel toward Pendar’s Keep.
The dragon brought them back to life and then we laughed as Princess and Duchess appeared as big as horses, wagging their tails and fetching sticks. The room was quiet again as I lay in bed bleeding and close to dying. Amber, Jade and Ruby all appeared with tears in their eyes, wanting to be held.
That was the way it went, scene after scene. The older girls all liked the love parts, many cried when Elizabeth bonded to us, although they found it very funny that Sam or Cat were the ones that always pulled her away to be loved. The scene with her last strand startled many because they finally found out what had happened.
They laughed at the way my parents treated me and at Sylvan when they heard Jessie was his bond leader. They gasped when we found my bond daughters and woke them and finally they stayed silent as I fought the drow again. I stood as the illusion went dark, “Elora!”
The room was full of light as I looked out calmly, “My daughters, this is my story. Do you know why it starts when I arrived here in this city? It is because that is when you girls started coming into my life. It is when I found that someone could care for me and that I cared for them. This is when I truly started living.”
I looked around the room, “Everyone has a story. My daughters, I ask you this. Where does your story begin? In the past with horror and abuse or here with people that care about and love you. Today there are no classes, but I do not want you wandering to far, enjoy the day.”
I looked down and pulled my bonded up to me as Sylvan and his parents approached. I glanced across the room to see Catherine holding Talia, while her daughter knelt and held Virginia and Rosie. Cat touched me, “She may not be ready yet.”
I smiled sadly, “I doubt that she is. What she has just learned will help with her healing though. She knows her daughters now and they know her. She also knows that they are my daughters now and not Pendar’s and that will help bring her back to them.”
I looked at Aurtha and Kari, “Did you enjoy the story?”
Kari grinned, “As a matter of fact we did.”
Aurtha smiled and then glanced back as Jessie touched his back and slid between him and his wife. Sylvan grinned as Elexia and Alonia stopped on each side of him, “Elexia wanted to know if you will teach her that move you did on Schaffer.”
I laughed as Elizabeth slipped under my other arm, “Thinking of spanking someone?”
Her laugh was almost musical, “It had crossed my mind.”
Jessie took Kari’s hand, “Father? Kari wants another baby. I know you helped Julianna.”
They were all silent as I looked at Jessie and then a cloudy specter appeared and drew Aurtha’s guards, but I only turned slightly, “Again, grandfather?”
There was a chuckle, “This is one of your tasks. You must find a way to help, not just your friend’s father, but his people as well.”
His focus shifted to Cat, “Guardian, your justice will come soon.”
And then it was Elizabeth’s turn as he turned to faced her, “Granddaughter, you will face a great fear. You must not act, let my grandson stand for you and let your sisters protect you.”
Again he faced me, “You do not have long Michael.”
I nodded and watched as he faded away. I glanced at my father as he walked closer. I thought fast about what grandfather had said and hinted at. I nodded to myself and looked around the room, most of the people were gone, but John, Ann and Julie were still there. I think they knew I wanted to talk to them and I waved them over.
I looked from Sylvan to my three bond mates, “Three days and then we go, ready or not. Until then, we do everything together, from the time we get up until we go to bed.”
I looked at Jessie, Elexia and Alonia, “No, you aren’t going. Jessie is not trained and would put us at risk. Elexia, you and Alonia need to stay with her and protect her. From herself or anyone else that would harm her.”
I looked at Sylvan’s parents, “If you want my help, you will need to send all the nobles away or I’ll have John put them to work with Peter, butchering Saur.”
I glanced at Lady Kari, “I don’t know if I can help, but I’ll try.”
I looked at dad, “Will you do the exam with me? This is more your area then mine.”
He nodded and I looked at Jessie, “Well my daughter, since you stuck your nose in, you can escort them down to one of the exam rooms at the end of the hall where they will have more privacy. Send someone for Aretha and Juianna, ask them if they would join me in the exam room with Lady Kari.”
I watched as Jessie nodded and led them towards the door. I looked at John, “First, I will need a large wagon with good springs. Get with one of the rangers and ask about horses to pull the wagon. Tell them it’s for the prince and they need to have endurance.”
I looked at Ann, “You know where my money and treasure is. If I don’t come back, I want you and John to try to keep this place going…”
I patted her on the shoulder and finally turned away from everyone and knelt facing my three bond daughters. I knew they wouldn’t be happy and held my arms out, “Come here girls.”
As they came into my arms, I hugged them. “I know you were listening. This is something I have to do, your sister needs my help. We have three days until I leave and unlike my other daughters, you will be able to tell if I am alright. I want you girls to stay with your grandmother and grandfather.”
I grinned at them, “You need to teach dad how to do the displays.”
Ruby groaned, “But dad, he…”
I laughed and squeezed them, “All three of you need to start practicing. Not just using your senses, but your magic. If you don’t learn to use the magic, it may use you. Your grandfather Artimas and grandmother Summer can help. Now, I have a lot to do. Why don’t you three go find someone to teach you to swim.”
They hesitated and finally Jade nodded, “Okay, but then we’re coming back to find you.”
They reluctantly pulled away and quietly walked out of the room. I stood and turned to face my bond mates, “I think someone will probably have to sit on them to keep them here.”
Elizabeth laughed, “It’s your own fault, momma duck.”
I grinned and gestured to John, Ann and Julie, “You three take off, try to enjoy some of the day.”
Once they had left, I looked at my bonded and Sylvan, “We stay together, if even one of us has to go to the bathroom, we all go. When we move, I will lead and then Cat, followed by Sam, Elizabeth after her and Sylvan last.”
I looked at Elizabeth, “I’ll need your help crafting a special gun for the servants.”
She nodded and I turned towards the door. Downstairs we walked past several guards standing around the exam room Lady Kari was in. I stopped listening to someone arguing with Sylvan’s father. I shook my head and looked at one of the guards, “follow me.”
When I came into the room it was to see a noble standing in front of the King arguing. I stepped closer, “Either leave now or I will have you removed and I don’t think you will enjoy that experience.”
He turned his head towards me as if I were beneath his notice. “Stay out of this.”
I nodded to the guard, “Take this… person to the human called Peter. He’ll be across the river. Tell him I would like it if we had a few more Saur in the cold room and he can help butcher them.”
The noble opened his mouth to argue and squawked when the guard grabbed him by the back of his neck and started dragging him out the door. I looked at Elizabeth, “Tell the guards to move down the hall to the stairs, they don’t need to listen to Lady Kari’s exam.”
I saw that Sarah was there and patted the exam table, “Lady Kari?”
We spent an hour with them and between Aretha, my father, me and surprisingly Elizabeth, we came up with a way to help not just Lady Kari and Aurtha but all the elves. I put Aurtha and Lady Kari in one of the large rooms in the grotto and Sylvan and his bonded in another.
In the craftroom we came up with a low powered gun that shot a dart like bullet that put who ever it hit to sleep. We spent the rest of the day going over plans on how to move. Cat drew a map of the Keep and the route she thought was the best way in.
We spent the evenings with the girls, giving baths and listening to them tell us about their day. Amber, Ruby and Jade would end up crawling into our bed every night. Melissa and Tammy seemed to have adopted Sam as their mother and sought her out for comfort. The rest of the little girls divided themselves between Cat and Elizabeth.
The days were spent practicing; shooting, sword work or magic as well as just moving together as a team. John bought a large wagon that was strangely light. It was like our first wagon, it had the two different types of springs and the ride was very smooth. The ranger that was seeing Amanda, appeared with six horses that he said were both strong and had endurance. The last night I sent Sylvan off early to be with his bonded.
I asked my mother, father, Artimas, Summer, John, Ann and Julia to join us in our room at bath time. We spent a quiet evening talking and comforting not just them, but my bond daughters as well as Tammy and Melissa. I woke to my father slipping into the room the next morning. I knew why he was here, to keep my bond daughters from following.
I woke Cat with a kiss and slipped over Jade to Sam. Sam was awake and smiled up at me. Amanda had slipped into bed late in the night and was next to Elizabeth. As I woke Elizabeth, I saw Amanda’s eyes open and watching, unshed tears in her eyes. I stopped next to her before getting out of bed and leaned close, “Don’t worry, I’ll bring her back safe.”
We met Sylvan at the bridge. His rangers were waiting on the other side of the bridge and he spent several minutes with them before joining us by the wagon. We made sure we had everything and the girls climbed into the wagon. We took one last look at the small group that stood watching us and walked quietly into the morning fog.
I ran quietly ahead of the wagon, my body relaxed with my senses stretched out ahead, searching. Only three days had past since the Drow had attacked my Keep and I still wasn’t convinced they had been after the elven king. We had been moving all day, switching the horses that pulled the wagon constantly to save them. Now it was just getting dark and we were moving slower.
We had only encountered drow twice, I raised my hand as I felt them again. This time I moved to the side of the track and looked up at Cat as the wagon slowed and came alongside me. I whispered, “Are we close?”
Cat nodded, “Not far, but there are guards.”
Sylvan stopped beside me, “All clear behind us.”
I looked around and pointed to a small clearing a little behind us, “Put the wagon and all the horses there. Make sure you picket the horses with long leads. I’ll go take care of the two guards ahead of us and wait for you.”
Turning, I moved off the track and silently through the woods. When I got close to the drow guards, they were alert as if they had heard something. I was only a dozen yards away when I stopped. Slowly I brought the silenced hybrid up and aimed. Two quick shots took the guards out and I was again moving, this time to pull the bodies under cover.
It was another ten minutes before Sylvan and my wives arrived. They were moving in the pattern Sylvan and I had taught them. I stepped out of cover and took the lead keeping a longer gap between us. The glasses I had made and enchanted seemed to be working perfectly. We had only gone a little way when I again felt drow, this time they were moving towards us.
I signaled and we faded off the track and the night was still as we waited. The four drow walking down the track walked past me and when the last one went past, I shot him and moved to the next. By the time he was down, Cat and Sam had taken the other two out. We moved out of the cover and while the girls covered us, Sylvan and I dragged the bodies off the track and under the brush.
Again we continued down the track until we reached the clearing. I knelt as the girls and Sylvan moved closer. I looked at Cat, to see her pointing to a door along the right side of a huge building. We waited and shortly two guards came into sight walking around the building. I looked at Cat and made a hand sign for her to take the one on the right.
I brought the hybrid up and aimed as I slowly started squeezing the trigger. Cat’s guard stumbled and then my hybrid was bucking as it fired and the second guard fell forward. I signaled for the girls to guard and again Sylvan and I moved forward to pull the bodies under cover. When we were done, I gesture and they joined us as we moved quietly to the door.
When we reached the door, I paused and let the hybrid go so that it was held under my right arm by its sling. I removed the night glasses and pulled my modified White Hawk and the mage gun Elizabeth had helped create. I moved to the other side of the doorway and nodded to Cat.
She shifted and pulled the door open and I swiftly stepped in, moving to the side of the doorway. The three servants turned as I appeared and the mage gun coughed three times. I watched the servants fall to the floor sound asleep as first Cat and then Sam came through the door behind me.
Cat moved along one wall and Sam the other as Elizabeth and then Sylvan appeared through the door. While Sylvan and Elizabeth moved to join Cat and Sam in covering the other door, I quietly moved the servants into the pantry. When I came out, I crossed to the door and looked at Cat whispering, “First your sisters and then your mother, just like we planned.”
She nodded and opened the door for me and I slipped into the hallway beyond. It was clear and I gestured for them to follow. We started moving down the hall staggered, Cat and Elizabeth on the other side of the hall. When we came to the first intersection I nodded to Cat and she moved up and stepped around the corner.
I crossed the hall and followed her around the corner and moved forward to the single door that was in front of us. She moved to one side and I took the other. Sam moved up behind me and glanced back before tapping me on the shoulder. That let me know Sylvan and Elizabeth were watching the hallway behind us.
I nodded to Cat and she opened the door as I started moving. Inside the room I moved along the wall, I had brought the mage gun up, but held my fire as the two servants that turned, held infants in their arms. They stared, eyes wide in fright as Cat broke the pattern and crossed to the closest. As she got close she whispered, “Nanna, I’ve come for my sisters and mother. Come with us.”
The woman stood for a minute as Sam, Elizabeth and then Sylvan entered the room. She finally nodded and turned to another cradle whispering, “We must be quiet, the Ardan has summoned the host.”
I glanced at Sylvan as Elizabeth and Sam moved forward to the three small beds with sleeping girls. I moved to one side of the door and waited as the girls and the two servants got three infants and three six year old girls ready to go. When they were ready Cat whispered instructions to the servants and placed her younger sisters between them after a quick hug.
When she was ready she crossed to me, stopping only to squeeze my shoulder before slipping out the door and taking a position to the side. I slipped out and to the other side of the hall and continued moving down to the corner. At the corner, I glanced back to see Cat’s sisters and their nanny’s following behind Cat.
My senses were extended as I slipped around the corner and slowly moved down the next hall. I knew the hallway we were in was a servant’s hall, but it also crossed the main halls where we were heading. As we got close to the main hallway, I felt the two drow approaching and signaled.
They were talking as the walked down the hall and glanced down our hall causally, not expecting anything. Two pistols fired almost at the same time and they fell before they even knew they were dead. Again the girls covered, whiled Sylvan and I moved the bodies, this time into a closet.
When moved down the main hall to a set of doors not to far from the intersection. I signaled Cat closer and whispered, “Whatever we find, stay calm and do it like we planned.”
Her lips tightened but she nodded. Sam moved up behind her and she opened the door. In a blink I was through the door and moving. There were two drow inside and they were raping Cat’s eleven year old sisters. I didn’t even slow as my pistol came up and fired twice. Reaching the first bed, I grabbed the body that was still twitching and yanked, letting it drop to the floor as I continued on to the second bed.
Cat was behind me and she stopped at her sister and pulled her into an embrace whispering to her. I reached the other bed and shoved the dead drow over the other side of the bed and gently touched the young girl whispering, “Little one, it’s over. Your sister Cat is here to get you.”
I waited until one of the nannies’s got there and moved back to the door. I could see Sam and Elizabeth both smoldering and whispered, “It isn’t my time yet, stay calm.”
I slipped out the door and Sylvan followed, I moved down the hall and waited as he stayed by the door. A couple of minutes later the girls came out followed by Cat’s sisters and I started drifting slowly down the hall. At the next intersection I felt several drow down the hall and signaled Cat.
She quietly moved closer and we went around the corner together. Two seconds later it was over and the five drow lay in a spreading pool of blood. We left them and continued down the hall to the next door. It was locked and had a wooden cross bar holding it closed. I wordlessly reached out and snapped the lock and lifted the cross bar.
Cat quietly opened the door and I stepped in. There was only a single bed in the room, the woman that sat up looked so much like Cat, that I was having trouble calming myself. She was covered in bruises and didn’t even try to hide herself. Cat slipped past me, “Mother?”
Her mother blinked and half opened her arms as Cat reached her. Cat held her and started crying as Sam slipped past me and touched Cat, “Let’s get her dressed. Michael is angry and you know what is coming.”
Cat nodded and slipped the small pack off her back and removed the clothes that she had brought while I turned and walked quietly to the door. I stepped out into the hall and looked at Elizabeth, “Stay with Sylvan and cover our rear.”
I walked several feet the other way and looked at Sylvan, my jaw clenching. “Follow the best you can and protect them.”
I reached out and started walking, letting my senses feel ahead of me. My pistols slipped back into their holsters. By the time I reached the first occupied hallway there was a red glow surrounding me. The first drow to meet me, died as they slammed into the wall behind them so hard it shattered every bone and turned their insides into paste.
At the corner to the main doors into the main hall I paused to glance back at my bonded, to see them moving towards me at a fast walk. I stepped around the corner as my mage shield came up and I reached out to the four guards at the door. I slammed them into the doors so hard that they exploded into the other room.
Walking forwards into the room, I moved into my master’s dance. Everyone that came near, I killed. I reached out to the necromancers that threw spells at me and broke their necks before ripping their hearts out. Then my bonded reached the door and the drow started dying faster as they started killing them with their hybrids. I reached out to the drow that had been sitting in a throne and slammed him against a wall and then crushing the two necromancers that had been sitting beside him.
Silence came to the hall as I finished killing the last drow standing and turned to the Ardan as he lay stunned against a wall. When I reached him I bent and pulled him to his feet and then backed to the center of the floor. I slapped him as he started pulling in magical energy, “You do that again and I will kill you without giving you a chance to fight.”
He froze and glared at me, snarling, “You have no idea who I am!”
I smiled a smile that caused him to step back, “You are the Ardan and I am your judgment. For what you did to my wife and her mother your life is mine.”
I hit him, knocking several teeth out and sending him sprawling. As I moved forward he came to his feet with a dagger in his hand. I shifted sideways as he lunged and grabbing his hand and twisting up and back, I snapped the wrist. I continued moving around him, hitting him and breaking bones as he screamed.
When I broke one of his legs and he fell, I continued with my feet until he was a whimpering thing on the floor. I knelt beside him and cut his pants away with his own dagger before looking up at my wife, “Cat?”
She walked across the room and stopped beside me as I stood and held the dagger out to her. She looked down and then looked into my face, “My mother needs this more then I do.”
I nodded, and turned to the door, “Lisa?”
She hesitated and then slowly walked across the room. When she reached us, I held the dagger out to her, “His fate is yours.”
She slowly took the dagger and looked down, after a minute she knelt. She looked at his face for a long time and then suddenly reached out with the dagger and stabbed into his stomach and yanked up. She spit on him as he screamed and rose to be held by Cat. I knelt and pulled the dagger free and quickly cut his throat before cutting out his heart and tossing it into the fire at the side of the room. I cleaned the dagger and looked at Sylvan as I put it away, “Time to go.”
As I stepped out of the room, I noticed the dozen drow sprawled on the floor of the hallway. Sylvan had done a good job keeping them off our backs. I slowly started to make my back out, stopping to check each cross hallway. In the servant’s kitchen, the three servants were awake. They moved back against the wall and let us pass. When I stepped out the door it was quiet but I knew that was a lie.
When we started across the clearing a single drow stepped out. Only the fact that he had raised his hands, his palms empty, kept me from shooting him. He moved towards us slowly, I recognized him as the drow that had been in Pendar’s Keep. He nodded to me, but his attention was on Cat. Slowly he knelt and bowed his head, “Highness, the Ardan is dead. I ask your judgment.”
She looked at me and I moved closer, “Why do you call my wife so?”
He kept his head down, “Because the Ardan is dead and I have killed his only son.”
I looked at Cat and then at Sylvan as he moved closer, “Is that why you seek judgment?”
He nodded, “When I returned and started asking questions, the Ardan’s son had me confined. When you came, I escaped and found him as he sought to escape your wrath.”
Cat frowned, “You seek judgment from me? Even though I am not full blood like you?”
Again he nodded, “You are the Ardan’s oldest daughter.”
She looked at Sylvan and then at me and I watched as something crossed her face. She stepped closer to the drow, “Were you one of those that used me or my sisters?”
The drow shook his head, “No highness, I have never taken a woman unwilling.”
Cat looked at me and then sighed, “What is your name?”
The drow looked up, “I am Zachary, highness.”
She slowly pulled her sword, letting the magic roll out and away. I could feel something else coming from her, almost as if she wasn’t alone in her body, “The killing of my half brother is serous, even though I would have done the same without a second thought. Zachary, I bind you in my service, you will set your weapons aside. From this day forth, you will be my children’s teacher and mentor, until such a time as peace finds you.”
Her sword slowly descended until it rested on his shoulder, “Do you accept my judgment?”
Zachary bowed his head as he undid his weapons belt and let it fall, “Mistress, I accept.”
I looked around, getting a strange feeling of magic around us, “We need to go Cat.”
She nodded and her sword slipped back into its sheath. The night came alive in mage light and I spun around to see a single mage standing before the track leading out. He laughed as I moved forward, “Very touching. I’ll be sure to remind her when I take her as my plaything.”
I heard Elizabeth’s choked whisper, “Antizel!”
The lightening that flashed past me was not hers though, it was Cat’s. I stepped to the side and threw up a shield as I watched it shatter on Antizel’s shield. He laughed, “oh, that was pitiful young princess. Elizabeth? Not going to welcome me back? We are going to have so much fun getting to know each other again.”
I had extended my senses and suddenly laughed as I started walking towards him slowly, “Antizel, you have made a big mistake. Actually you made several.”
The ball of fire that struck my shield was huge and white hot, but it only faded away. He made another gesture and an army of undead walked from the surrounding darkness, “And what mistakes are those young mage?”
The ripple of magic I sent out hit the undead and seemed to have no effect. I smiled as I stepped even closer, “First, you did not protect your army well enough.”
Suddenly a bright light appeared on the chest of every undead and quickly grew brighter until it exploded and they turned to ash. Antizel paled and again a ball of fire struck my shield and faded away. I took another step, “Your second mistake was to let me find out you were still alive.”
I took still another step and held out my right hand and a sphere appeared above it. Antizel laughed, “Are you going to kill me with your pitiful magic?”
I smiled as I stepped closer and my shield absorbed a massive lightening strike. The sphere had little lightening bolts filling it, “No. Your third mistake was to let me get close to you.”
I tossed the sphere across the few feet between us and it stuck to his shield and seemed to just sink in. Antizel laughed, “Well that was scary, any more mistakes?”
My smile widened, “Yes. You put up the wrong type of shield.”
His smile faded as he glanced at the spot my sphere had struck. That was the last thing he ever did on his own as a bolt of lightening flashed from the inside of his shield striking his hand. Where it hit, bones shattered, a second bolt followed the first with the same results. After that it was like a lightening storm, everywhere the lightening struck, bones shattered. The end came when the last bolt hit him and the shield vanished.
I stepped next to his whimpering body and looked back, “Elizabeth?”
My wife slowly stepped away from Cat and Sam, who had been holding her with shields that surrounded her. She walked to me as if in a daze. When she stopped next to me, I pulled my dagger and handed it to her, “End it.”
She looked at the dagger and shook her head, “That would be too easy.”
She held her hand over Antizel and murmured something before turning her hand over. It looked like a black speck dropped from her hand to land on his body. Antizel started screaming as his body began to smoke and turn black. I moved Elizabeth back a step as it started making a keening noise and suddenly a tendril appeared in the air over him and wrapped around him. His body slowly faded and then was gone leaving us in silent darkness.
Elizabeth touched my arm, “Can we go home now?”
I smiled and nodded as we started walking down the track. When we reached the wagon, we helped the children and Lisa into the back. I gesture to Zachary and he quietly climbed onto the wagon while Sylvan and I harnessed the horses. It was a long walk home and ended in the late afternoon of the next day as we came to a stop by our bridge. There was a large crowd that met us, my parents and all my daughters where there and just about every neighbor I knew.
As Jen helped her sister down and started across the bridge with her family, I stood and watched. Yes, this was home and this was my family. This was my new beginning, my fresh start.
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