Chapter Twenty-Seven: Understanding Takes Heart
Vasilios’ palace walls were deathly quiet, Kaydence, along with the others that accompanied him on their escape mission, hadn’t heard a sound for quite some time and so they made their first move.
They met in the main hall, Kaydence having risked everyone’s lives, had fetched his mother before meeting them, Mayfel of course had tried to talk him out of doing so but Kaydence had been adamant.
Ida had asked Mayfel of Kaydences whereabouts but respectfully, he clearly told her that Kaydence would join them shortly.
And he had shown up, despite Ida’s displeasure, not that he paid her any mind.
“Let’s go” he whispered and arm in arm with his mother stepped towards the corridor that would lead them out into the open.
His path, however, was blocked by Ida, her arms spread wide and her eyes daring him to object.
“Your mother cannot join us” she said in a hushed, sharp voice.
At the end of his limit, Kaydence replied “If my mother stays, I stay”
“If that is your choice, then so be it”
“No, he will be coming with us” Mayfel objected, Evan agreeing with a nod and hum.
“He will not leave his mother, it bothers me not if he stays or followed. But no matter what you choose, your mother is dead”
“That is enough mother” Erabos tried to interject but his mother continued on, without so much as a glance in his general direction to show she acknowledged him.
“You just need to wake up and see it for yourself before you kill everyone”
The words struck Kaydence hard, he could nothing but stare wide-eyed at her as his mother spoke soothing words into his mind.
“She is right, you should leave without me, I will only slow you down in the long run. Besides, I can buy you all some time here.”
“I don’t want to leave you. I promised I’d find a way” he said solemnly, tears pricking his eyes.
“I know, but you should not feel bad for breaking it. Show me how strong you are, Fili Mi”
His arms wrapped around her as tears spilt from his eyes, he couldn’t help it, it was as if his family kept falling through his fingers as he tried so badly to hold onto them.
The only one that had stayed had been Dalamis, but now with everything happening, he might lose him too in the end.
“Do not cry” his mother’s comforting tone whispered “It will not be the last time we see one another. I am always with you and your brother, we are connected through the land, the trees, the wind and the blue of your eyes. I am always there, as long as you embrace it, we will never be apart”
“I’m going to miss you” he muttered between his quick breaths to silence his sobs.
“I know and I will miss you also. Tell your brother how proud I am of him”
“He won’t believe me,” Kaydence said his lips trembling into a half-hearted smile.
With her own saddened smile, she took out a folded piece of paper from her pocket, its surface worn thin and browned.
“He will believe you once you give him this. Ut radices ligare nos, my son” she whispered to his mind, leaving a lingering kiss to his forehead. “You must go, I will keep them distracted as long as I can”
“Mother please” he begged reaching out for her as she stepped back away from them and Mayfel began ushering him after the others out of the door.
His mother smiled at him, her blue eyes watery “Save them all” she said before the doors slammed closed behind them as they ran into the pitch-black terrain.
* * *
Passing through into Lirren in the early hours of the morning, the sun peaking over the rounded hills in peachy, golden brilliance, the clouds rejoicing the light as they coloured themselves the same, the sky looked at peace but the same couldn’t be said for the ground. Aveline was surprisingly still away, despite having driven for endless hours.
Rowan had suggested that they pull over and rest although she had insisted against it saying “You can sleep while she drives, I’m perfectly capable of listening to you snore, afterall I’m used to listening to Zack snore on a nightly basis, so it hardly bothers me.”
“I don’t snore” Zack retaliated.
“You’re like a stroppy child, does someone need a nap?” Andrew teased.
With a warning grunt, Zack couldn’t help but run his mouth “Shut up before I tackle you again”
“I’d like to see you try in such a small place” he taunted.
“I’m always up for giving a demonstration”
“Cut it out and sleep” Rowan ordered from the front seat.
As usual, Andrew couldn’t bite his tongue or think through his words, as he said “Okay dad” pushing Rowan to silence.
He spoke to only Aveline as he mumbled “Pull over” his eyes not once diverting to the back of the van.
“I’m not tired-” she attempted to say, but Rowan’s pleading eyes left no room for objection.
She pulled over, the two-way road lit up by the occasional passing car.
Rowan was out as soon as the vehicle had stopped and was already on the grassy verge and over the barrier that dropped down into a sudden slope to a field of livestock before Aveline had even put the van in neutral.
He stood and starred off at the flatlands, most were waterlogged with the passing weather, only made noticeable by the moon’s reflection on its surface, not that it seemed to bother the silhouettes of grazing livestock.
“Why can’t you keep your mouth shut?” Zack barked, with violence on his mind, it was a constant theme when it came to Andrew.
“What did I do?” he asked obliviously.
“Rowan just lost his wife and child and you just called him father. Did you not think that it would remind him of what he’s lost? Do you have any brain at all? OR is it empty up there?”
“We’ve lost people as well, it doesn’t make him special. He shouldn’t be so weak, if one word can upset him then he’ll never cope” Andrew scorned.
“We’ve lost someone, you’re right. But losing a child is different, no parent should have to bury their child. It is worse than losing a brother or a sister, a wife or husband. I’d expect you to act the same should I drag Brianne’s name through the dirt, or would it be worse I called you weak for mourning her?” Zack said with a forceful tone that many dared not speak back to.
“Say my sister’s name again and I will kill you” Andrew all but growled in response.
“I guess you know how Rowan feels now”
Getting up, Zack left the van, being sure to shut the door behind him before he accompanied Rowan.
“You’re not as bad of a person as you let on,” Aveline said, her eyes fixed on the two men outside, although focusing more on one of them than the other.
“What you see is what you get with me”
“Or maybe that’s what you want people to think, there’s something else to you, a kinder side”
“Even if there was, the world’s too harsh for kind people. Those who are selfless are either fake or lying to themselves, people like that couldn’t survive if they were all good” he said, something told Aveline that he was talking from experience, perhaps he used to see Brianne as an angel that could do no wrong.
“Zack is stubborn, criticising and blunt, but he means well”
“That’s what everyone says, but aren’t you a little biased?” he asked
“Of course I am, but I see the good in him too, which apparently is something a lot of people can’t do. You smeared your name with betrayal, but your thinking and meanings for it were not so different from ours. Despite what everyone thinks, there is no good side or bad side, just different ideas and opinions that clash”
“Are you siding with me now? Isn’t it a little late for that now?” he said raising a curious brow.
“Absolutely not, like I said, we have different opinions. And mine goes against yours, I’m just saying that sometimes it’s okay to live a little, don’t be so serious. Zack had to figure that out the hard way and even now he still forgets to drop the straight-faced, leader act”
“How is it to date someone like that?” he asked ingenuously.
“I hope you’re not referring to what I think you are” she warned him with a terrifying spark in her eyes.
“It depends what you think I mean” he played.
“Being with Zack is actually easy-going, he’s different when we’re alone”
“I don’t want to know about your sex life” Andrew noted.
“I wouldn’t tell you any of that, I just mean that he’s much more laid back and calm behind closed doors”
“So you either didn’t understand what I was hinting at, or you just ignored it”
“It was the latter. Zack had gone through a lot of criticism through his life, some of which were more physical than verbal. Zack and I have no time for bigots” she stated coldly.
“And I have no time for any of this, yet here we are”
Manoeuvring her eyes from Andrew in the rearview mirror, she turned her attention back to Rowan and Zack, they were talking, it was a good sign to see Rowan conversing, it at least meant he was returning to himself.
“You should show a little compassion towards others, or at least a little understanding” she mentioned as Rowan and Zack began heading back to the van. If you don’t, then you should just stay quiet unless you want me to beat your ass”
“That would be an unlikely scenario” he brushed off.
“Then you better make it a likely one”
With everyone back in the van, Aveline continued their journey acting as though the conversation between her and Andrew had never happened.
“We should reach Alden by late afternoon” Rowan stated looking to the sunrise.
“We’ll need to stop for fuel before then” Aveline informed him looking to the needle nearing the red.
Zack spoke up from the back, his vision never once leaving Andrew “We should buy some food as well and maybe a drink, we can’t survive off of cereal bars for the next few days. The food probably won’t be much perter at the petrol station but at least there are more options” Zack chipped in.
“Zack I want you to keep an eye on Andrew at our next stop, if he needs the bathroom then you go with him. Don’t let him out of your sight.” Rowan ordered.
“That’s a bit far, Rowan. I’m sure he can get to the bathroom alone, he’s a grown man”
“We cannot risk him escaping and there is no way we can keep him tied up when we get out, it will attract too much attention. Therefore, you are in charge of him, the entire mission is on your shoulders. No pressure”
“This is not a time for you to gain a sense of humour, Rowan” Zack grumbled.
“I am not joking, you have your allocated jobs, so complete them. Aveline, you can fill up the van and I myself will retrieve the food”
“Actually Rowan, maybe it would be a good idea for me to go in the shop, they’ll see your ears” Zack tried.
“Nonsense, I have this,” he said holding up a hoody.
“That’s mine, how did you get that?” Zack complained, but his question was answered by Aveline’s snickering.
“Now may we please continue the duration to the stop in silence.”
“Why can’t you go with the moron” Zack yet again complained.
“Because, you can run faster if he escapes, which hopefully won’t happen,” he said passive-aggressively.
“I can’t say I won’t kill him”
“It is in your best interest not to”
Andrew raising his foot in substitution for his hand asked “Do I get a say in this?”
Simultaneously, Rowan and Zack spoke at the same time, in the same flat tone “No” they said causing Aveline to roll her eyes but with a hint of a smile playing on her lips.