In the short distance stood a little, brown house with green shingles. The windows gleamed in the sunlight, the branches casting broken shadows across it. The scent of burning wood filled the air as smoke clouded from the chimney. The little black cat sat against the door, waiting for them.
Ryker slid off of Petre's back, wiping his hands across his clothes to straighten them back out. Kiaran moved to the door. Just as she reached for the handle, the door swung open. The four nearly jumped out of their skin, caught by surprise.
The Destine watched them, Stella sitting in a chair, a blanket draped over her body. Her eyes lit up as she saw Kiaran just out the door.
Cyrin’s expression shifted as he gazed at the orange-eyed man. He recognized him right away. As did Nurra, it seemed, as he scurried up the man’s body, perching on his shoulder.
It had to be...Kiaran’s over-ran heart ached. Judging by their reactions, she knew without a doubt.
“...Estiahn...” Cyrin breathed. He dropped to one knee, bowing a head.
He let out a short laugh. “And you are...?”
“Cyrin, your Majesty,” he kept his head low, “I worked closely with Myrin before we were disbanded.”
“I see,” he hummed. He stepped off the porch, walking to Cyrin. His body tensed as the prior king stood beside him. “I am to understand that I am no longer your king, boy. You should stand, now.” Glancing to Kiaran with a grin, he said, “You are acting rather strange in front of the Lady.”
Ryker watched them quizzically, Petre seeming just as confused. Kiaran’s heart fluttered as she watched him. His face was the perfect etching of a hero, a strong jaw and high cheekbones. His eyes were shaped beautifully, much like her own.
Cyrin stood, but kept his eyes low. Estiahn walked back to his door, saying, “Stella is feeling quite well, now. And I can see that you were wounded, Cyrin. Were you healed already?”
“Aye,” he nodded.
“Who did so, my daughter?”
Kiaran’s eyes shot to him, anger beginning to flood her. His daughter? He hardly made any attempt to speak with her, or ease in the idea that he was her father. He spoke freely as if the world knew what was going on.
“No,” he said. “The boy did.”
He looked to Ryker who grew more puzzled with each second. “The Young Healer...” he said. “I was told that I’d meet him in the near future...Did not realize it would be so soon, however.”
“Why is everyone so intrigued by the Young Healer?” Ryker mumbled.
“You are important,” he replied, “You will find out soon enough.”
Looking to Kiaran over his shoulder, he said, “Please, come inside. I’d like to get to know you, more.” Her fists clenched at her sides as her muscles tightened. “Well, come, come,” he walked inside. “When did you finally make it to Vintar?”
She walked through the doorway, her eyes staring daggers into him. “Nearing two years,” she said.
They all sat in the chairs, the fire glowing across the room. “I see,” he nodded, “and how is your mother?”
“What are you doing here?” she spat, cutting his words short. Everyone grew intensely silent and watched her.
“You aim to know why I am in Trindal-VinCar?” he asked, his voice rumbling deeply.
“Yes,” she grunted. “And what you are doing as a Destine? That makes no sense.”
“We will have to discuss this later in the evening,” he said. She narrowed her eyes at him, but her scowl did her no good. Estiahn turned, saying, “You boys smell awful. I have a tub behind the house. Why don’t you fill it and clean up? I’ll have some fresh clothes for you.”
“Yes,” Cyrin lowered his head, Ryker nodding. Petre seemed happy by the idea.
“For now, however...I’d like to talk with my daughter...Kiaran, would you join me outside?”
She stared at him for a moment before she nodded. Finally, she stood with her father. They made their way outside where the air was cooling off. They strolled along the treeline, Estiahn watching the fluffy clouds sail over them.
“You wish to know...” he began softly. She watched him with her stoic expression. “Well, I was in Kamoni years ago and I ran into a Destine named Kimana. She liked how I was able to insert myself into your life without being noticed,” he replied.
She stared at him, her brows lowering. “What do you mean?”
“I would often send Nurra to watch over you, but at times I couldn’t keep away. I had watched, one day, while you were out in the garden of a rich woman’s house,” he said. “One morning, it was your birthday. The sun was shining on the dew in the grass, and the trees were particularly green and covered in blossoms. You seemed sad, and no one knew it was your birthday...I sent Nurra to sit in the branches just above where you stood. As the wind picked up slightly, he tossed some flowers down to you...It made you smile, and all that sneaking around seemed worth it. It was worth seeing you smile just that once...You may not have remembered that...But it is a memory I treasure.”
She remembered. All this time she thought the creator was smiling upon her that day.
“It would have been better if you killed Nathanial,” she muttered a response. “Or took me away from there.” She couldn’t care less if she had smiled then or not. It couldn’t have made up for the years which had stolen her smile to begin with.
“I wanted to,” he said strongly.
Ryker bounded from around the house, slowing to a stop behind Estiahn.
“It took everything in me not to. But I had to leave. Kimana was your Destine, not I. I was invading what she was building in you--yet I couldn’t see that. All I could see was my daughter’s suffering. I nearly killed Nathanial that night...and she forced me to comply with her...As much as I disagreed with her, that was what made you so strong. I didn’t want to see it, and I know you don’t want to see it...But if it weren’t for Nathanial, you would not have become the strong-willed, compassionate woman that you are.”
“Compassionate?” she bellowed. Ryker watched her anxiously as she said, “I am broken because of him!” She raged with hatred. Never could she imagine such a reunion with her father.
“You are being put back together, Kiaran,” he began. “You are healing, although weak at the seams. Listen to me, my daughter, you are destined for great things. I wish with every fiber of my being that you didn’t have to go through that. I pray that your suffering is over and your healing may begin.” He looked to her with sad eyes. “Please, forgive me as a man, for your father deserves no mercy.”
Ryker watched them silently, tensing as if to turn and leave. Estiahn watched her with a deep sadness and need for forgiveness. Possibly he needed to forgiveness from himself rather than just her.
Kiaran’s stomach grew weak as she soaked in his words. He was heartbroken and filled with regret. How could she hold such anger or hatred toward him for that? It wasn’t Estiahn that she hated, but Nathanial.
Finally, she looked past him to Ryker and asked, “What?”
“Oh,” he nearly gasped. “Um...I’m sorry,” he stammered. “I don’t need anything...” He couldn’t look away from them.
“Ryker,” Cyrin called out. “Leave them alone, I found it.”
“O-okay,” he nodded as he tripped on his way back.
Estiahn smiled slightly, though it wasn’t able to mask his earlier expression. “Kiaran.” She looked over to him once more. “I am happy to have met you.”
She gazed at him, unsure of what to say.
"And I had nearly killed him...If you have forgotten that," he added very quietly.
Her heart raced at the memory of that night. Still, she was at a loss for words. After a moment, he led her back inside.