Warlands of Song

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Chapter Four: Glen

It was the number one thing he shouldn’t have done, but he couldn’t stop himself from doing it. Robert had tried to tell him. Don’t get involved, forget about her, etc. But yet he’d taken her piles and piles of food and what did he get in return? She’d practically thrown everything off his porch. But he knew, somehow, that she wouldn’t throw everything away. She seemed like the type to have more bark than bite. Well, her bark was her bite. Nevertheless, she was clearly frightened, and bluffing.

It should have made him less sure about her status. Whether or not she was human. After all, humans were a naturally nervous and suspicious race as well. But all it did was confirm to him what she was. He looked up from the pot he was cooking in.

She hadn’t tried to tell him to forget her again. She’d verbally argued and fought him tooth and nail, but she hadn’t tried to force him to leave again. Had it slipped her mind out of fear, or was she truly considering letting him in? Why did he care? He should have been grabbing Robert, selling the cabin, and running far, far away. But instead he was bringing their neighbor, who was a Siren, food, and trying to win her over. He was insane.

“I don’t know what you’re making, but it smells delicious.”

He named the stew he was testing, and Robert settled at the counter to watch.

“Hey, can you pass me the leftover pie you made? That stuff was amazing.”

Glen’s movements slowed, but he didn’t let it show on his face. “It’s gone. I ate the rest.”

“All of it? You don’t finish anything you make.”

“It was good, like you said. And you never finish what I make either, so I ate it myself.”

Robert eyed him. “Really.”

“Yeah, really.”

“Okay. Then pass me the enchiladas you tested out.”

“Those are gone too.”

“Is anything left?”

Why did his roommate have to pick that day of all days to magically want to eat his creations? Robert routinely sampled each new menu item, but now it seemed he was officially on a mission to eat something from the day prior.

“Just give me a second and you can taste this."

“Where did all the food go?”

He kept stirring. What did he say to that? Where had all the food gone? To their neighbor. The neighbor Robert had told him not to associate himself with. Yeah, her. She was eating it.

“I donated it to a homeless shelter.”

“That’s bull. Where is it?”

Screams interrupted Robert’s interrogation of him, and he moved without thinking out of the cabin. It took a second for his eyes to adjust to the sight before him, but even when they did, he wasn’t sure what to do or think.

Five men—No, five Namai stood outside of his new neighbor’s home. All wore glowing eyes and piercing glares. And suits. Official, pure-white suits.

He couldn’t even enjoy that his guess had been correct. Noa was indeed not human. With so many Namai after her, she had to be Siren. Nothing else made sense. It wasn’t until Robert touched his sleeve that he realized he was moving to confront the men.

“What are you doing? What are they doing? What’s going on?”

“I’ll explain later. Now isn’t the time.”

A shriek was cut off with a choked sound inside the cabin, and he stepped forward faster than he meant to.

“Hey!”

All five Namai soldiers turned to face him, and one by one their eyes dimmed. Each face registered confusion. In the darkness, none of their faces was recognizable to him, but his features were so distinctive, he knew they could tell exactly who he was.

“What’s going on here? I want answers. Now.”

“We were sent to terminate her, General.”

“On whose authority?”

“We don’t know. Our commanding officer passed the order to the six of us, after one other was killed by her. Her power is increasing, and if we don’t kill her now there’s no telling who else she’ll hurt—”

“Whoa, whoa, stop. Are we talking about the same little girl that moved in next door, or is she hiding someone much more powerful in her home?”

The soldiers turned, glancing at each other. Glen’s fists clenched.

“I said I want answers. You’d be wise to start providing them.”

“That girl not human, General. She’s far from a little girl. Her true age is far beyond what you would assume it is.”

“Tell me her name.”

“Saige Glade, sir.”

Well that wasn’t right. She said her name was—Well, if she was truly in hiding, she wouldn’t have told him her real name. Things were beginning to click into place. Barely, but they were beginning to click.

Noa—Saige—screamed again from inside her cabin, and something shattered. He began to walk through the men, but one moved to block him.

“We were given orders, sir. No one is to disturb the execution.”

His mind blanked. Executions were for criminals. His heart told him that Saige was far from a criminal. He stepped closer until he looked straight into the young soldier’s eyes.

“I think I’m more than qualified to disturb this execution, son. I’d appreciate it if you’d all get out of my way.”

The young man stared him down for all of a second before giving a quick nod and stepping aside. No one else questioned him as he made his way in.

He smelled blood less than one step inside. He shut his eyes and counted to five to force his power back into submission. For a moment he was tempted to rip the house to shreds, but that wouldn’t solve anything. So instead, he cocked his ears and listened. One voice spoke from upstairs, so he made his way there with swift, quiet steps.

“You’re more than aware of the crimes being held against you,” the man said. “I am curious as to how you thought you’d escape us.”

Glen peered into the last bedroom. His blood boiled.

Saige knelt at the mission commander’s feet. She rested her weight partially on her arms, and her head hung toward the floor. Silver liquid pooled around her knees, dribbling from a deep wound in her side. Her arms trembled so violently, he wondered how she hadn’t fallen flat on her face.

“Your family did a wonderful job of concealing you. And afterward, you’ve done a wonderful job of keeping yourself mobile. But even you had to know it wouldn’t last forever. You couldn’t avoid us forever. And now what? Instead of dying peacefully, you’ve had to go through all this pain.”

“It’s been a while, but I’m certain you’ve broken a few rules during this supposed execution,” Glen said, walking into the room.

The soldier jerked around to face him, eyes glowing. Then, slowly, the light left his eyes. And soon after, the color in his face.

“General Mykel?”

Glen moved to stand directly before the young man, between him and Saige.

“There are very strict rules for executions, kid. There need to be five witnesses. You broke that rule by having the rest of your team wait outside. You’re to read the accused the charges against them and give them an opportunity—unless they attempt to inflict physical harm—to deny the charges. You did not, from what I heard. And the most important rule is that the accused should feel no pain.”

He didn’t turn to acknowledge Saige. He’d already seen the damage.

“Do you think she’s in pain? Bleeding on the floor this way?”

The man swallowed. “I—”

“Yes. Please explain why you’ve broken the most vital rules as an executioner. And then tell me what this mission’s goal truly is. And who you’re working for. Because you aren’t working for the military I was a part of, acting this way.”

There was a stretch of silence before the young man lashed out with the weapon in his palm. Glen mimicked the hurried movement, blocking the attack with ease, then snapped his fingers. A small dot of black Matter flew from between his thumb and middle finger to hover right before the soldier’s face.

The young man froze, eyes focused on the blob.

Glen considered ending it that second. But he had questions that needed to be answered first.

“Who are you working for?”

The soldier’s eyes focused back on him. He just stared back. “Well?”

Without warning, the man lunged. Glen had no choice. A flick of his wrist and the opening of his palm, and the young soldier hit the floor, motionless. Glen turned from the body and knelt before the girl.

“Saige? Can you hear me?”

She didn’t move, and he bent to observe the damage to her side. She didn’t move when he lifted the hem of her shirt to peer underneath. Her silver blood baffled him, but the wound was clearly visible underneath. It was deep, the edges a darker black than her skin. An obvious Drenj wound. He lifted her bodily to her bed, laying her back. Her first and only movement was to reach for her side, but he grabbed her hand, holding it down.

“No, don’t touch it. I’m going to help you. Just relax.”

He dialed Robert and gave him orders to bring a few supplies. Robert appeared in a short period of time, supplies in hand. He paused at the sight before him, but Glen rushed him over.

“Get rid of the rest of those soldiers outside. I don’t know if they were with him—” he gestured to the body behind him without looking—“but he is not in the military. I don’t know who he works for. I’ll explain everything later. I owe you.”

Robert left, muttering something about how much Glen would definitely owe him for what he was about to do. Glen rolled Saige’s shirt up higher and mumbled an apology before deploying the tiny plunger of medicine directly into her wound. She didn’t react in any way at first, continuing to attempt to reach for her wound and touch it. He soothed her the best he could, until she began to drift, her movements becoming sluggish until she lay motionless on the bed.

He packed up the remaining antidote packages and sat beside her while he figured out what to do.

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