Mythrin turned back to face the creature that existed now within Kirian. No, that wasn’t right. Mythrin suspected that the beast had always been there, just beneath the surface. And now it had broken through, snapping the lock to its cage.
Kirian bent down, his fingers spread out, resting lightly on the ground, the tips curled slightly as if claws were scraping against the ground. His breath came hard and fast, his chest and shoulders heaving, his eyes darting from Mythrin to the trees, and back again.
“Kirian,” said Mythrin slowly.
Kirian snarled at him, the white of his teeth glinting in the sunlight. Mythrin watched as the young man lowered his body, bending his strong legs, preparing to pounce.
“Kirian, I know you can hear me,” said Mythrin, taking a small step forward. As soon as his foot landed, Mythrin realized his mistake. Kirian’s eyes flashed, and he leaped forward, his hands snapping out toward Mythrin, his fingers curled. Mythrin stepped back, twisting his torso, feeling a gust of the wind as Kirian snatched at the air just before him.
Instinctively, Mythrin raised his arm to block the next attack, and watched in amazement as a foot, not the other arm, landed a solid blow into his mid-section. He felt his body crumple under the weight of Kirian, and the two men tumbled to the ground.
“Uff!” said Mythrin, his breath escaping his body as his back slammed against the ground. Grabbing both of Kirian’s arms, he brought his own legs up and tried to launch the young man over his head. It was a move he had seen Kalees do numerous times before.
It didn’t work. Mythrin simply could not get the power to his legs.
Kirian snarled again, and brought his head sharply down, hitting Mythrin on the forehead, once and then again. Both men howled, and Kirian tried desperately to free his arms from Mythrin’s grasp. He thrashed and twisted, the beast in him becoming more and more panicked.
“Kirian,” said Mythrin softly, his eyes demanding attention, his grip tightening. “Kirian, I know you’re in there. Please, don’t do this.”
Mythrin blinked, a mixture of blood and tears clouding his vision. The urge to wipe away the blood flowing from his head was overwhelming. But he resisted. There was no way he was going to let go. Kirian’s eyes flashed, and for an instant, Mythrin saw a flicker of doubt. He steeled himself and tried again to take advantage of the situation.
“Please, Kirian,” he said, searching the young man’s eyes, hoping for another flicker. “It’s me, Mythrin. You’ve seen into my mind. You know me. I’m not here to hurt you. You know that. Please, come back to me.”
Kirian looked up sharply, and Mythrin twisted underneath him, trying to see what had drawn his attention.
“Oh no,” groaned Mythrin. “No! Dammit! I told you to keep him–”
Mythrin watched helplessly as Kalees leaped forward, striking Kirian square in the face. Kirian arched his back, and Mythrin lets go, fearing that his grasp would now cause more harm than good. Kirian tumbled backwards, shook his head, and quickly brought his body back into a crouching position. Kalees towered over him, his face purple with rage.
“What the hell do you think you’re doing?” shouted Kalees, his voice and fists striking out against Kirian. Kirian scooted back, dodging the onslaught of blows. Mythrin brought himself to his knees, watching the blood drip from his forehead and hit the ground.
“Kalees,” he said, his voice sounding far away somehow. “Don’t. He’s not himself.”
“What the hell?” shouted Kalees over his shoulder, as he hit Kirian in the chest. “You’re actually defending him? He would have killed you!”
“And he saved your life, you idiot!” shouted Mythrin. He stood up and grabbed Kalees by the back of the shirt and yanked him back, forcing him behind. Mythrin looked up and watched as Kirian struck him in the chest. Mythrin stumbled back, allowing the strike to be absorbed.
“Do your job,” he snarled at the two monks. “Keep Kalees away from here!”
“Wait! What?” Kalees looked to his right and left as Brother Ystril and Brother Ptolec snaked their arms around his own and forcibly dragged him back to safety. “Mythrin! Are you nuts?! You can’t control this maniac!”
Mythrin watched Kirian closely. There was something else going on. A memory from long ago snaked through Mythrin’s body and mind. A memory of two young children, playing in the palace garden.
He watched Kirian’s chest rise and fall with the breath. His eyes traveled to where the shirt was ripped and became transfixed as a small strip of cloth shifted just beneath the surface.
Kirian hesitated, the beast watching Mythrin closely. Mythrin tore his eyes away from the strip of cloth and locked eyes with Kirian, once again.
“Sorry about that,” said Mythrin, wiping the blood from his vision. He knew from experience that the cut wasn’t that serious. Still, it was a bit bothersome. He kept his voice low, soft, and assured. He prayed that the fear and confusion he felt wouldn’t be noticed.
Kirian opened his mouth and huffed, his eyes watching Mythrin warily.
“That’s right. Keep your eyes on me, Kirian,” he soothed. He glanced at neck, noticing the smoothness of it. Something began to click in his mind. “You can trust me, you know that.”
Mythrin stood still for a moment, his legs shaking slightly. He wondered how long this would take. He wondered how long he had.
“Kirian, please. Come back to me. I know who you are. You’re not this. You never were this. Please.”
Kirian moved forward slightly, his eyes locked with Mythrin. A look of hesitancy and hope lurking there.
Mythrin crouched down, meeting Kirian’s gaze. He fell backwards onto to his rear end, the dizziness finally taking its toll. Kirian scooted back at the sudden movement, and stayed there, looking on.
“Kirian,” said Mythrin, reaching out, his hand gentle against the air. “Please, please, come back. I think– I think I’ve been searching long enough, don’t you?”
Kirian moved forward slowly, haltingly. Mythrin watched as Kirian’s eyes finally cleared, and an old familiar welcomed light finally shined there. He smiled in welcome and relief as Kirian finally fell into his arms, the roundness and softness of the body finally being revealed in his embrace.
“Are you all right?” asked Brother Ystril, stepping forward.
“Yes, I’m fine,” he said smiling as blood continued to trickle down his face. “Everything is going to be all right now. I finally found her. Kalees, I finally found her.”
“What are you talking about?” asked Kalees looking up from where Brother Ptolec was firmly holding him against a nearby tree. “How can that be her?”
“It’s her,” said Mythrin with an assured smile. He glanced down at Kirian, now sleeping peacefully in his arms.
“I don’t understand,” said Brother Ystril, looking at Mythrin. “Is not Kirian, Kirian, the young man who saved Kalees and myself?”
“No,” said Mythrin with a shake of his head. “Look for yourself. I don’t understand it, but Kirian has been living in this forest as a man. See the bandages wrapping her chest, and the smoothness of her neck?”
“My word,” said Brother Ystril, taking a closer look. “You’re right. But why? And you’re acting like you know her. Do you?”
“I do,” said Mythrin, his voice exhausted but exuberant. “I remember that scar on her right shoulder. She got it when she fell from a tree in the royal garden as a child. She was trying to beat my record for climbing the highest. I was banished from seeing her for a whole month.”
Kalees pushed Brother Ptolec away from him and came forward.
“Mythrin,” he said sharply. “You don’t mean–”
“Yes,” said Mythrin nodding happily. “I finally found Princess Tiriana.”
© 2016 – 2017, Laura Seeber. All rights reserved.