A Tall and Small Collection | Soren |

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Plea

His heart seized in his chest, the wind escaping in a wheezing breath. There was no mistaking him – the Borrower kneeling on the ground was Soren’s younger brother, Dorian.

Soren collapsed to his knees, eyes not leaving his brother. From where he was, it was hard to see the finer details. What Soren could see, however, were the dots of some dark liquid leading up to the figure of his brother.

An overwhelming panic seized control. What happened? How hurt was he? Where had Dorian and Rey been for the past two weeks? And where was the youngest brother, Rey?

Soren wished he had his hook at his side or, better yet, that he could simply leap off of the edge and fly to his brother’s side like some fairy tale. Sadly, that wasn’t the case, and he was bound to walk and bound to his own injuries. Doing the only thing he could, he called out to his rother as loud as he could.

“Dorian! Dorian can you hear me?” He strained his ears and focused, barely picking up the sounds of gasping sobs. The sounds tugged at his heart and made his chest ache. “Dorian, listen to me! You’re going to be alright! Hang on… I’ll…” Every solution Soren came up with left him with one severely obvious problem – he couldn’t get down off of the counter; not on his own.

Soren heard another heart wrenching sob. He clenched his fists and pounded one of them against the countertop in frustration. He knew what he had to do, and he didn’t like it.

He pealed his eyes from his brother’s visibly trembling form and directed his attention to Ashlynn, who had not said anything and remained as stationary as possible. Her body was tense, eyes fixed on the small injured person a few feet away from her on the ground. A look of barely restrained sorrow in her eyes.

“Ashlynn, you have to help me get down there. Please.” Ashlynn’s attention flickered between the young injured Borrower on the ground to Soren.

“Wh-what?” she asked in a partial daze.

“Please!” Soren pleaded. “There’s no time. Just grab me and put me on the ground!” Soren wasn’t sure what possessed him in the moment. Perhaps the concern for his brother overrode his own apprehension of being held willingly by a human. After a few seconds, Ashlynn shook the glaze from her eyes and glanced over to the box.

“Are you… sure? What about your rules?” she asked hesitantly. Soren heard his brother’s whimper and steeled his nerves.

“Ashlynn,” Soren’s voice broke in his throat as he said her name. “Please.” Ashlynn nodded stiffly and, with a nervous tremor to her hand and her eyes, reached out.

“Right.” Ashlynn didn’t grab him, thankfully, and instead laid her hand palm up for him. Soren swallowed dryly and forced himself up just enough to stumble forward onto Ashlynn’s open palm.

Soren’s entire body shuddered when he realized what he had just done. The sensations hit him simultaneously. The warmth and softness of her palm against his. The subtle beating of her heart which he could feel in the veins his hands now rested on. Being able to see each individual line constructing her fingerprint. Most of all, feeling the way her hand shook as she quite literally took his life into her hands.

Every instinct pulsed energy into his body, both to leap off of the hand of the human and to aid his brother. A tingling sensation rippled through every nerve and made him shiver involuntarily.

Before he could convince himself to address Ashlynn again, his stomach dropped and his heart hit the top of his throat as Ashlynn lowered him from the counter onto the ground mere inches from his brother. She was careful, yes; but she still moved much faster than Soren was used to.

Now that he was closer to his brother, he could see the full extent of the damage. Along Dorian’s back were four long, but thin, scratches which had slashed and torn his shirt open. There were several small puncture wounds on the front and back of his arms and legs along with five larger and much deeper puncture wounds on his torso. There were also bruises forming all over Dorian’s body, which Soren noted was noticeably thinner than the last time he saw him.

Soren stumbled forward off of Ashlynn’s palm, now clearly hearing Dorian’s sobs and whimpers. Dorian was on his hands and knees, head down and not looking up. Seeing a shadow approach brought about another bout of sobs until Dorian caught a glimpse of a reassuring, Borrower sized hand.

Dorian looked up weakly, tears lining his not as round face. His hair was noticeably longer and the spark in his eyes had dulled. Soren could still see a glimmer of his younger brother remaining, but it was fading fast with fear.

“S…Soren?” Dorian sniffed as he gazed into his older brother’s eyes. Soren smiled warmly, yet unable to disguise his increasingly overwhelming concern at Dorian’s injuries. Dorian, without warning, lunged forward, tears pouring from the corner of his eyes, and tackled Soren in a tight embrace.

For the first time in two weeks, Soren felt his body relax and enjoy the warmth of another body his own size. He pulled Dorian close and pressed his cheek against the top of his sibling’s head. The moment did not last as it was shattered by a fearful, whimpering scream from Dorian as he remembered how close the human was to him and Soren.

Dorian instinctually began to pull Soren back toward the wall fruitlessly, whimpering and trembling all the while. Soren, in response, pulled Dorian closer.

“Shhh… it’s okay. You’re okay. We’re okay. Shhh… She’s not going to hurt us. I won’t let her hurt us,” soothed Soren just barely above a whisper just before raising his hand and motioning for Ashlynn to take a few steps backwards. Dorian, wide-eyed, watched as his oldest sibling waved the human away with his hand – especially when she listened and backed further away into the kitchen.

“S… Sor—en, t…tha…t’s a human,” stammered Dorian in between sniffs and snot.

“I know,” said Soren reassuringly. “And I’ll explain everything as soon as I can; but, Dorian, you have to tell me – what happened to you? Where did you get these wounds? Does Brady know? Does Rey know? Is Rey okay?”

Dorian’s light blue orbs for eyes welled up with tears again and another bout of uncontrollable sobs. Soren felt his insides drop. He felt a numbness spreading through his chest and shutting down his mind.

Rey. Little Rey – the timid and curious and always chasing behind. The one who was quick to follow and first to observe. The notorious cover stealer.

No.

Soren would not accept it – not until Dorian said it.

“Dorian!” Soren clasped the boy’s face in his hands, ensuring their eyes locked. A sickening feeling churned his insides. “Is… Rey…” He had to brace himself. Soren didn’t want to know, but he had to hear it. “Is Rey dead?”

Dorian’s sopping wet face was slick in Soren’s hand. He tried to look away from Soren’s determined gaze, but the eldest held firm. Soren’s voice was not angry, but it was direct and firm. Soren watched with baited breath as Dorian shook his head from side to side with a shrug. [No. He said no. He’s not dead.]

“He was alive when you saw him last?” asked Soren. Dorian had to think, but eventually nodded.

“He’s alive.” Soren’s statement came out in a relieved sigh. The next question that came to mind was just as difficult. “Then… where is he?” Dorian sniffed, shoulders hunched as he wrapped his arms around his bruising torso.

“The old human got him.” Dorian broke into another round of sobs. “W-w-we went to borrow food, but we got turned around. We… went into the old lady’s room, but the door was open.”

Soren’s eyes widened. Dorian’s wounds suddenly made more sense. The shape of the scratches and the puncture wounds were all signatures of one particularly tenacious feline familiar to Soren. Soren sank to his side, relinquishing Dorian’s face.

“So,” muttered Soren. “He’s been seen and is in a cage?”

Dorian’s voice, choked, managed to stammer. “I… don’t know. H-h-he was caught in something really sticky and c… could… couldn’t get out.”

“A glue trap,” muttered Soren, familiar with these and their near impossibility to get free. “He… fell in one?” Dorian buried his face into his hands. Then, he wailed at the top of his lungs.

“I-I-I tried to get him free! I c…cou…couldn’t… pull him free! It... it… it happened so-so fast Soren!” Soren, snapped back, a swelling protectivity taking control and he pulled Dorian into his chest.

“I know. I know.” He said over and over. “You were so brave. Dorian, I’m so glad to see you. I’m so glad you’re okay.” The reassuring phrases were beginning to calm the boy, but Soren could see that it was exhaustion and the beginning of blood loss that was really taking its toll on Dorian.

Soren, completely torn, pulled Dorian further into his lap; and Dorian did not refuse. [There’s a chance. There’s a chance Rey is okay. There’s a chance he’s safe. I can’t leave Dorian. I can’t even rescue Rey the way I am now.] Soren glanced to his right, eyes lingering at the only person who Soren could turn to – who he had been turning to – and who he would continue to turn to.

“Ashlynn.”

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Ashlynn, for the vast majority of this conversation, adhered to her instructions of staying back in the kitchen. Closer to the end, however, she inched forward and sat on the ground in the hopes that Soren would properly introduce them. She picked up on a handful of phrases – Rey, trap, captured, human. Their voices were so soft that Ashlynn couldn’t pick up on much.

Now… Soren went from holding his brother to cradling his head in his lap. The little guy, Dorian, didn’t look well. He was pale and shivering. His clothes were ruined, which mattered significantly in winter. He was terrified, but had come anyway to his brother for help.

Now, Soren had turned and was looking at her – his hazel brown eyes staring pleadingly at her. Tears pricked the corners of his eyes.

“Ashlynn…” he said softly. “Please… save my little brothers.”

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