The Price of Vengeance

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Guardians Arriving

The rest of the ride was relatively peaceful until a sound like flapping ship sails.

Tilting up their heads, they watched a giant orange bird fly over. Its shadow engulfing them.

“Guardians.” Disseus hissed yanking up his hood and folding his cloak carefully around him.

Did she call to them? He sent Nim a sharp look.

Horses shying, they moved from the landing path of the massive bird.

Descending through the trees it shrank, wings disappearing. Legs reducing and scales falling away. Clothes climbing up his length like snakes winding over him. Polished boots crunched over the branches as he took a few steps and came to a stop.

“Nim.” He greeted. His solemn face typically impassive.

She gave a slight nod.

She knows him. Disseus looked from her to the Guardian. Waiting to find out exactly what he was here after.

Pulling his hood low over his forehead Disseus willed his features to be mottled and slack again. Tipping his head sideways he leaned away from them.


Fortunately, Bernus had eyes only for Nim.

“I’ve brought the others.” He announced. “Though you know the severity of our mission, your daughter insisted we check on your efforts and ensure you’re still safe.”

Daughter?

As the small Ice Benu Guardian landed behind her, she transformed into a lovely young recreation of Nim.

Nim’s eyes lit vibrantly at the sight of her. Disseus was looking from Nim to the girl raptly.

Disseus couldn’t help looking from one redhead to the other. The likeness is uncanny.

The only difference was that the younger girl had beautiful aqua eyes instead of Nim’s brilliant green.

Disseus felt somewhat annoyed that Nim had only spoken of a son. I’d known nothing of this daughter.

How much more of her life, don’t I know?


A giant multi-colored bird arrived next. It had to land in a clearing ahead, due to its massive size.

Disseus’ eyes widened. He’d never seen a Benu Guardian so large. Disseus dismounted readying for combat should he be recognized.

What is this thing?

“Mother!” The girl hit the ground running and embraced Nim with a delighted squeal.

Mother? It seemed strange to hear someone calling her that.

There’d been a time when Disseus had envisioned tiny children of theirs cheering that as they flooded into his hut.

But it was not to be. He shook himself from wasted reveries. Ignoring the small pang of sadness that rolled through him at knowing Nim had bourne two men children.

Neither of which were mine.


“Marnie, My Sweet!” Nim welcomed her. Arms wide and her face soft in a way he’d never seen before.

Laughing together a moment Marnie stepped back and turned to face the others.

“Are these your assistance?” Her voice held no disappointment or skepticism as she surveyed their ragtag band.

We’re a rather rough looking lot. Even Disseus knew that.

At Nim’s nod, Marnie approached them for a closer inspection.

Watching the treeline ahead, Disseus awaited the arrival of whatever massive beast had been in the shape of the biggest Benu Bird he’d ever seen. Vaguely surprised when a slender young man emerged.

What did I expect? Some behemoth?

Yes. Yes, I did.

Someone far larger. Such as a great barbarian of a man. Like one he’d meant once at the Blue Lark Assassin’s Guild. An unholy large creature.

Nim tossed her hair over her shoulder, to offer the young man a broad smile in greeting.

She knows him. How? Disseus was slightly annoyed at the surge of jealousy that rose through him. Immediately making him recall the feel and smell and sounds of her on the night past. Wondering if this good-looking young man had experienced the same from her on occasion.

That thought was sickening. For a moment Disseus’ eyes narrowed and his teeth gritted against the wave of emotion.

But the young man promptly stepped to Marnie’s side. His hand dropping low on her back to rest possessively.

Disseus’ face eased and his aggressive stance relaxed. He belongs to the younger version.

Not my mate.


Beaming, Marnie strode to them and quickly began embracing each of them in warm welcome. Despite Lonnix’s startled look.

And as she reached Disseus, he’d misshapen his face and allowed drool to seep from the corner of his mouth.

But Marnie didn’t bat an eyelash. Her expression sincerely thankful.

Too sweet to even note my deformities. And against his better judgement, Disseus felt himself softening toward this gentler version of Nim.

Like all the best parts of her.

“Your deeds won’t be forgotten by the guardians, Lonnix.” Her smile was scintillating as she shook his hand vigorously.

Looking so much like her mother.

And as for Nim, everytime she looked directly at Marnie, she couldn’t suppress her proud smile. Nor the softening of her expression.

She cherishes her daughter.

Her children. He corrected his thoughts. It was a look he’d not seen on her in a long while.

Pure joy. It transformed her face.

This was why she needed to find her son. Though he’d known, he hadn’t understood until now.

She’s a mother with a desperate need to protect her young, in truth.

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