With a gasp I woke up and Calder was there right next to me, cradling my shoulder. “Oh gods. No, no, no, no.” I was shaking my head as Calder tried to ask what happened, but I had no time to explain.
Getting out of bed I wobbled a little from a night of ecstasy, Calder’s hand shot out quickly to catch me and all I could do was mumble a ‘thanks’.
Running around finding enough to cover my lady parts, I could feel Calder’s cool gaze. I had no time though and as he slowly rose from the bed I snapped at him to hurry it up if he was coming with. I promised that I’d explain on the way.
“No! I don’t know Kallan, but we need to go now!” I was frantic at this point. All three of us had felt the connection with Camira snap like a twig, but none of us were getting the show on the road. We needed to go!
“But what if -”
“I don’t care.” All of the sudden a tree branch above me lit on fire as I got in Kaia’s face. That’s what happens when you tried to ask a question none of us could answer.
Calder grabbed me by the hips and when the pads of his fingers firmly touched my skin and I was pulled into his chest, the fire was extinguished and my face no longer felt so hot.
As I looked from sister to sister I could read their expressions. Kallan was worried, but determined. Kaia was still unsure and wearisome. Turning to completely face Kaia I spoke with hurried frustration. “I don’t care what the hell you do, but we all felt that Camira has fallen unconscious. She needs our help and I intend to help her.” And as a last thought I said, “Along with Kallan.”
Kaia still had one of her hard looks splayed across her face, one you would only be able to understand if you knew her. I knew her and I realized she was tempted not to come.
I hated her for that.
I was getting panicky again and could feel heavy butterflies bump around inside my stomach. Calder was there beside me once again.
“The more we argue the more likely she won’t be able to wake up. Are you coming or not?”
Deep inside she was my sister and I really wanted her to come.
Calder squeezed my hand for support. He knew what I was feeling. Threading my fingers through his I quietly communicated with him while I waited on Kaia’s answer.
There was a different look that crossed her face and I realized she wasn’t coming.
Turning quickly on my feet, I dragged Calder with me towards Paxton. I heard Kallan say something to Kaia, but from this distance it was a mumble.
Soon angry tears ran down my hot cheeks, and the only way Calder knew how to support me was with a firm, but gentle grip on my smaller hand. I was angry that Kallan took the time to say good-bye to my selfish sister. I should have remembered she was cold, cold enough to freeze the fire in me if I let her.
In that moment I turned to Calder and Kallan who had caught up with us. I decided to let go of my selfish sister's act for now. Facing Calder I asked, “What did you do with that horse?”
His answer was automatic. “I let it go after we came back from the fire.”
I nodded, walking towards Paxton once more with a determined hop in my step. Then I began shouting orders, making a plan, thinking out loud. “We need two or three steeds. Most likely three, because we don’t know how bad they both will be by the time we find them.”
Moments later we passed Paxton's outer wall and I kept talking, searching for the stables. “Kallan, we use money and if that doesn’t get it done we persuade.”
Whipping around I faced my sister. “We’re doing it my way or we won’t get there in time. Either you’re in or you’re out, but I really need you...Camira and, if she found her mate, needs you.” Taking a sharp breath I finished, “Are you in Kallan?”
Quickly seeing the look in my eyes she responded, “I’m in. I’m not going anywhere.”
“Okay,” turning away I saw Kallan leave and approach a small shack that held a mare half asleep. I left, letting her do what she did best.
Turning quickly to the other side of the street a ways up, I had Calder with me at my heels. When I found the owner of the small barn, after taking a look at some of the horses, I approached him with an inviting smile.
He smiled back, and I felt like I had a chance.
Speaking in his mother tongue, I greeted him. “Hello, I would really be thankful if you lent us two of your beautiful horses for the rest of the day. Can we maybe buy them off of you?”
All of the sudden he looked worried. He responded sensing the tension in the air. “Oh I’m sorry Miss, but these horses aren’t buyable.”
“Please sir, I’ll give you triple what they usually cost.”
He wasn’t making this very easy, and I was getting desperate. Obviously, he wasn’t going to give over the two horses I spotted.
Under my breath I murmured, “Okay, watch and learn.” I knew Calder could hear me, and I felt him shift behind me. He’s never seen me persuade someone before. Or at least not the true way.
Mentally rubbing my hands together, I took a deep breath and just stared into the man’s eyes. It took longer than I thought, but when I saw the softening in his eyes, like a puppy begging for something, I spoke gently but firmly. “You will give us the two horses in the first two stalls, and you will let us leave with them never to worry if anything happens. If nothing happens we will return them with twice the amount they are worth.”
Within the blink of an eye it was over, and he smiled acceptingly. I turned with Calder following, silent and thoughtful.
Pushing open the stall door to the sight of a horse, it raised its head in surprise; I quickly grabbed the rope that was hanging from its halter. Swiftly petted its neck, reassuring it, I got to business. Throwing the blankets on and then the saddle, I tightened the girth. The stallion danced in his place and faked a reaching bite in my direction.
Bringing the horse out of the stall I hastily grabbed a chunk of mane and slid on fluidly, even though his legs were practically as long as my body - from toe to shoulder. Soon enough the horse became aware, with his ears perked to a ridged point, and I watched as Calder hiked a leg up and we turned to leave.
Kallan was waiting outside of the barn with a dancing mare. It wasn’t very pleased, with its tail swishing.
“No, Calder just had to witness a little persuasion, that’s all.” I gave a hint of a smirk.
“Good, lets go before my horse decides to run off.”
Nodding I began to trot with the other two behind, and as we got further away from the city and closer to the woods, I pushed the stallion into a gallop.
It didn’t take long for my muscles to feel the burn, but soon I pulled him back into a fast canter as we neared the thicker trees.
“Kenna, wolves!” Kallan yelled from the back of the herd.
I waved a hand, telling her I heard. Soon after I knew she was right, because my horse changed pace slightly. His body language was different. Then I began to see them closing in, hearing their huffs and yapping speech. I studied them closer and noticed something.
“Kenna,” it was a warning from Calder.
Looking behind me for an instant I quickly explained. “I think they’re here to help. See how they're not coming any closer?”
I heard Calder give a grunt of agreement, and watched as the wolves herded the horses in the direction of Camira...or so I hoped.
As the woods became thicker, I realized that Camira and her mate must have come from the direction of Nedra – the prison. Soon enough I could sense her, but just barely, like she was fading.
And then when I saw a heap of two bodies lying with each other, no movement, I pulled on the reins hard. My horse’s head reared up as more wolves came closer, and I didn’t tell him to go around them. I jumped off his back, and as a second thought threw the reins at a stretched out tree branch.
Running towards the two bodies at a hurried, panicked speed, I slid on my knees next to Camira who was draped over a satyr looking like he was dead.
“Oh gods, no.”
I knew who this satyr was.