The Four Lands Of Arravan: Birthright

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Chapter Twenty-One: Small Pieces To A Large Puzzle

Kyril had identified the poison that had riddled Nathan’s body, although therein lay the problem.

The poison wasn’t simply a concoction of plants or other poisons, It had been tampered with and with it coming from a creature, Kyril had theorised to have been created to kill, it didn’t instil much comfort in Monty.

With Kyril as their only hope, when the pink-eyed, blonde-haired man had said he had no idea where to even begin with an antidote which had sparked a debate, of sorts, between Monty and Kyril with Nerina trying to settle things.

There was nothing he’d said to the sorcerer that he regretted, he still stood by his comment What Is the point of you being here if you can’t fix it? Despite Kyril’s response, The Fae hadn’t even gotten close to discovering what it was, so be thankful I came all of this way to help.

Other than to pace the room and use the en-suit bathroom, Monty hadn’t left the chair.

Meals were brought to him and it wasn’t as though he had anywhere else to be or had anything else to do.

For the majority of the time, he spent starring at the happy face in the photograph for the majority of the time, it somewhat made him wish he knew Nathan better.

He never made too much of an effort to socialise with those around him unless it was for work purposes, there were some he got along with and others he would join for meals, but on a day to day basis his interactions would max out at a simple and quick hello how are you in the corridors as he passed by.

Nathan, on the other hand, talked to everyone and anyone about everything, in some ways Monty envied him and his free spirit, Nathan was so willing to trust people.

Some would call him naive but Monty knew that wasn’t true, Nathan sure acted like he trusted the world and that everything would be simple and work out, but he’d seen another side of the young man, a sadder side when he would hod and look longingly into the photograph.

That was a man that didn’t trust the harsh world around him.

Monty often wondered why Nathan had stayed with the Ravens, even before they became the resistant group when he still had a family he could live with, he could be away from the danger and be happy, yet he chose to stay.

It was a question that had long been on his mind, but only now did he feel like he wanted an answer, perhaps it was because of the clock ticking down his life or maybe it was because he knew that he couldn’t get an answer.

Yet the idea still tried pushing itself forward, like if you stood on the edge of a wall, the urge to jump to the wall on the other side over the gap, you know you wouldn’t make it but the urge is still there in the back of your head.

Monty supposed he should listen to Nerina’s advice and try to stay positive for both his and Nathan’s sake, there was no use getting nervous now, although it was hard not to be when not even Kyril, a man that had been alive longer than a thousand years-give or take- didn’t know how to solve the problem.

All the while the poison had crept past the newly applied line and had begun to edge its way towards Nathan’s chest and up to his neck.

His skin still remained feverous and grew even more so with each passing hour, his hands had started to twitch against the restraints and his eyes continued their rapid movements behind their lids.

It would soon be reaching the tenth hour since he was injured, Monty wasn’t sure if he was holding up well or not against the poison in his system despite the lack of estranged words being shouted and his seizing body seemed like a step in the right direction, then again it could just mean that a certain phase of the poison had passed, he dreaded what was to come.

Breathless muttering caught Monty’s attention, the injured body lay on the bed, slid his tongue over his dry, purple-tinted lips as another mumble which failed to reach Monty’s ears droned through the silence.

Perching himself on the edge of his seat, Monty leaned in closer.

“Nathan, I need you to repeat that. Can you do that for me?”

“Thirsty” he rasped out, his voice weak and croaky.

Monty was immediately on his feet and moving to the door where he stuck his head out into the corridor, his voice bounced down the hallway toward the healers “He’s awake” he called before proceeding to arrange a glass of water.

The nurse he’d talked to earlier on in the day rushed in, the stethoscope around his neck bouncing against his chest.

“He’s awake, he was asking for water” Monty explained with a glass of water in hand ready.

“Nathan, can you hear me?” the nurse asked as he simultaneously checked his vitals. “Can you squeeze your hand if you can hear me?” he continued to ask, but each question h asked went unanswered.

“He talked to me, I heard it”

“I think it would be best for you to get some fresh air and a good night’s sleep. It is not healthy for you to be here” he suggested.

“I know what I heard and saw” Monty protested a few drops of water sloshing over the edge of the glass.

“It could have been a number of things, a side effect of the poison attacking his nervous system for example. For now, he is unconscious, I suggest you leave before I find someone to escort you out. You have five minutes to collect your things before I come back” he stated as he swiftly left.

Approaching Nathan again, the glass now put safely on the side, he leaned in hoping to regain the line of communication.

“Wake up Nathan, I know you’re awake” he whispered.

The man didn’t move, but the dampness of his lips told Monty it wasn’t just some hallucination, not that it solved anything.

Sighing he collected his jacket from the back of the chair, he turned back around to place the photograph back on the nightstand.

His eyes however were held wide, Nathan sat upright and stared right at him with solid black eyes where his own reflected.

“Mors illis qui laeserunt nos” Nathan whispered precisely.

Monty tried his best to remember the words through his shock, but it was even more difficult to do so as his body became panic induced, Nathan’s eyes returned to normal as his body fell back to the bed where his chest halted its movements.

His eyes left starring into Monty’s.

* * *

“Horatio Moore, a madman with a revolver. That loose cannon was born in New Montem but his parents had a home in Ashrise city, so since he’s not in New Montem… I’m sure one of you can figure it out” Andrew blabbered on in the back of the van.

They’d escorted him to the van, Zack making sure his hands were securely bound behind him despite Rowan’s lack of care whether he had full use of all four of his limbs.

Zack had argued against it, of course, nearly as much as Andrew had argued about joining them, both of them had given up in the end but Zack completely disregarded Rowan and took matters into his own hands.

Aveline had stayed quiet through it all aiding neither side in their debate, but she couldn’t help but notice the similarities between Andrew and Zack.

Their losses were similar and yet the way they grieved was vastly different, Zack busied himself to try and forget or at least to distract himself from emotions and memories, whereas Andrew seemed to want to feel the hurt and yearning.

She wondered which would be healthier in the long run.

“How do you know that about Horatio?” Zack asked

“I did a little research of my own when I was first offered a seat on Bregan’s side, I didn’t want to just sign a contract without knowing what I was signing up for. I might seem heartless, but I’m not stupid”

“You did it for your sister's safety too, didn’t you?”

Andrew turned his focus to the passing trees out the front window, avoiding Rowan and Aveline’s heads in the process.

“You’re not all bad. Even with the mad idea, you were still looking out for her. You at least have a piece of a heart, if not a full one”

“And yet she’s still dead, so really it meant nothing in the end,” he said matter-of-factly.

“It does seem that way, doesn’t it?” Zack replied tiredly.

“Are you going to be sappy the entire way?”

With a deep frown and a hint of an eye roll, Zack huffed “Sorry for trying to be sympathetic, I won’t bother again”

“I don’t want your sympathy or pity” Andrew snapped, putting his feet up on the seat.

“I wasn’t pitying you because I know full well how much I hate it”

“Shut up” he snapped.

Retaliating Zack barked back “You’re not in charge so you should be the one to be quiet”

“Both of you can be quiet, I brought you along to help me, not to bicker. I will not hesitate to abandon you all on the side of the road” Rowan called from the front.

“What have I done wrong?” Aveline chipped in as she tried focusing on the road.

“He started it” Andrew interrupted childishly.

Rowan was having none of it, he often wondered why he requested help, he should have ignored Solon’s wise words.

“And I am ending it, stop acting like children or I will treat you like one” he commanded.

Andrew glared across the van at Zack who glared back at him in return and as equally as harsh.

Pushing it further, Andrew shot his leg out, his foot kicking Zack’s shin and unable to stop himself, Zack copied the action.

Under Rowan’s instruction, Aveline pushed her foot down on the break and with no warning, the van came to a sudden and non-delicate stop.

Zack managed to brace himself but Andrew, who had nothing but his legs to rely on for stability, was sent tumbling onto his side like a rag doll.

The backdoors swung open to reveal Rowan, a look on his face that scared even Zack, not to mention Andrew as he was dragged from the van by his foot and left to fall onto the ground with no support.

Rowan’s hand went for Zack next and it would have grasped his shirt had it not been for Andrew who kicked Rowan’s feet out from under him as he somehow managed to push his way onto his knees where he unsteadily stood up and took off at a sprint.

With Aveline helping Rowan and making sure he wasn’t injured, it left Zack to take off after the escapee.

Andrew had a decent start already but nevertheless, Zack was catching up trying to pace himself and level his breathing.

He was struggling to close the little gap between them that seemed to show their difference in speed as they ran at their best and so Zack threw himself forwards, his arms wrapping around Andrew’s waist bringing them both crashing to the ground.

The bound man below him seemed to have the worst of the landing and it showed as Zack turned him over putting his bloodied and scratched face on display.

“Let me go!” Andrew demanded loudly as if it would make as much of an impact as his tied up fist would.

Not himself, Zack spat in Andrew’s face showing him his distaste to its fullest and his lack of care for whatever he wanted.

To accompany the gesture, Zack pulled back his arm, his fist raised ready to swing at Andrew’s face, he would have planted it square on his nose had it not been for Rowan subduing him and pushing him aside.

“That is enough! It is not about either of you or your hate for one another. I desire to find a child who cannot defend itself, a child that has been taken against its will. If none of you are willing to suck up being around each other for a few days then I will leave you here!” Rowan boomed.

“I didn’t even want to be here-” Andrew began but was stopped instantly by Rowan who shoved his words back in his mouth.

“You have said countless times, but you should not worry because soon you will be free to live out your life of regret and mourning. If any of you feel as though you can be selfless and put a child’s life before your own, I will be waiting in the van. If you are not there in three minutes I am leaving and you can walk back to Salatia”

“You’ll need a driver and I’m the best out of the three of us that can drive” Aveline stated with a gracious smile, linking her arms around Rowan’s as they both turned for the van.

Andrew who tried to argue against her statement was treated with a kick of her boot that connected with his foot, her eyes glaring daggers at them both as she moved away.

“She’s aggressive” Andrew muttered.

Zack, standing to his feet crossed his arms displeased as his eyes moved from Andrew on the ground to the space around them.

“Shut up” he snapped.

“Can I get a hand up?”

“No,” Zack said immediately.

“You put me down here”

“You’re smart enough to figure something out”

“I think I’ve broken my leg” Andrew complained, his excuses never ending.

Shrugging his shoulder, Zack knocked Andrew’s leg with his foot, perhaps it was a little cruel but he was at his wit's end with him and if he had a moment to annoy Andrew as much as he’d annoyed him then he would take it.

“Ouch,” he said in response.

“It doesn’t sound like it is broken to me, now get up or I will drag you to the van”

“You’re so grumpy” he muttered.

“I just don’t have time for people like you”

“People like me? Do tell?”

“Fake people. Those that put on a fake face and act like they’re perfect and okay all of the time” Zack said, his eyes still firmly held on Andrews's face but not actually seeing his features but instead a blur in the dark.

“Didn’t you just describe yourself?”

“Get up, before I do something we will both regret” he hissed, his fists balled at his sides, one of which was not too far from his holstered gun as if squeezing his nails into his palm was the only way for him to resist grabbing it.

Eventually, Andrew did get to his feet, his nose still dripping blood that had tumbled down his chin and onto his shirt.

“Can I have a tissue or something?” he asked.

“Does it look like I have a tissue?”

“I do but they’re in my pocket and obviously, I can’t reach”

“Then it looks like you’ll just have to deal with it, or stretch” he teased beginning to shove Andrew along watching him stumble and limp ahead before giving him another shove as he caught up to him.

Having had enough of the third shove, Andrew spun around with frustration and anger tensing his muscles.

“Stop shoving me” he demanded.

But he should have known where it would get him after the last time.

Zack shoved him a little harder and sent Andrew off balance and to the ground with a queasy thud followed by grans and wheezes as he tried to catch the breath forced from his lungs.

Crouching by his side, Zack said “You’re lucky you have Rowan protecting you, if it was just me, you’d be dead by now. Traitor.”

He stood again and retraced his steps to the van.

“I could just run you know” Andrew called after him.

“You could, but you wouldn’t survive long against the elements let alone the animals. You have no food, water or a map, plus your restrained hands wouldn’t do you any good against a bear”

On his feet, after minutes of intense struggle, Andrew begrudgingly followed, not happy in the slightest about his choices.

Watching clamber into the van, Zack pulls the doors closed behind them, then his eyes fell to the ground avoiding Rowan’s eyes in the middle mirror.

“It won’t happen again” he assured the Fae like a scolded child.

“It better not. Time isn’t usually on our side but you should pray for your life it is now”

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