A Way Home Part Two

The next morning, Mara, Dylan, and Eoin traveled to the borders of Dyteria. The guards greeted the travelers with initial scorn, but once they realized who the two boys were, they were welcomed into the kingdom with ecstatic joy. Mara was also welcomed, and the fact that she was clearly of the kingdom of Terria was overlooked, at least for the time being.

She even was given audience with the ruling council of Dyteria. Mara didn’t know how nervous she should be. Thankfully, she had learned to perfect her poker face quite early in life.

“Solider Mara of the kingdom of Terria,” greeted one of the council members. “We thank you for your efforts in returning the crown princes to our land.”

Mara blinked once and looked at the council member that had spoken, or at least she thought that she did. The white robes and identical headdresses made it quite difficult to tell them apart. Perhaps that was intentional.

“Thank you,” she said quietly.

“And what was your purpose in doing so?” asked another council, member. It was a male voice this time.

Purpose? Mara thought for a moment. Did she actually have a purpose? At the time of the escape, she merely acted on impulse. Her actions since then were simply done to complete the task in front of her.

“Impulse dictated my first actions,” she said truthfully. “Necessity dictated those that followed. I had no purpose beyond that.”

“Interesting,” said a third voice. Mara felt a slight heaviness in the air around her. “I do believe she is telling the truth.”

Mara frowned. Of course, she was telling the truth. What purpose would she have in lying?

“That is what we are trying to determine, Soldier Mara,” said the male voice.

Mara blinked once and chastised herself for being such a fool. Immediately she pulled energy into herself and began to create a wall between her and them.

“Ah, so you are one of those,” said the original council member. “Our apologies, Soldier Mara of Terria. But you can understand our actions, can you not?”

Mara nodded. If the situation was reversed, she probably would have attempted the same thing.

“I understand,” she replied. “That does not mean I have to allow it.”

She saw a hint of a smile pass collectively through the council.

“And what is your purpose now, Soldier Mara of Terria? Where are you to go now?”

“Mara. I am no longer a soldier or of Terria. As for my purpose, my purpose now is to live. Where I will go will depend on where my feet will land. Beyond that, I cannot say.”

“Will you become our enemy, Mara, former soldier of Terria?” asked a new voice. Mara glanced over at the man. This one seemed somehow younger than the others.

“If you are to make that my purpose, then so be it,” she answered. The man leaned back slightly, his shoulders relaxing, his eyes watchful.

“Interesting,” he said.

“If I may ask two questions, council. Specifically a favor, and a question of clarification.”

“You may.”

“I would ask the favor of rest for a night and a day, and a day’s worth of rations.”

“That is your right,” answered the council member. “It will be made so. And your question of clarification?”

Mara paused for a moment. How to word this?

“It the nature of Prince Eoin, and his condition understood by this council?”

An eerie silence came over the group. Glances shifted from one to another, and words unheard passed between them. Finally, the original council member spoke.

“Yes,” she said slowly. “We do understand his condition. We also understand what can be done about it. Your worry, although gratifying is unnecessary. We can handle Eoin.”

“As you say,” said Mara slowly. Something inside of her slid into place. A new view on the situation began to emerge.

We can handle Eoin

It was certainly an interesting choice of words.

Mara blinked once, then again, and stifled a small yawn.

“You are tired, Mara,” observed one of the council members.

Mara nodded.

“Forgive my rudeness. Today has been quite exhausting. Perhaps if I may find a place to rest?”

“Of course. Please be our guest this evening.”

“Thank you. I will take my leave for now, then.”

The curt nod of dismissal was all the permission she needed.

That night, Mara laid in her bed, marveling not only at its comfort but also her own stupidity.

She should have realized what was going on from the time she realized what Eoin possibly could be. Both Terria and Dyteria would see the boy as a powerful asset in this war.

Not as a living being.

Somehow, she was manipulated from the start. She wasn’t sure by what, or by whom, but the effect was the same. There was nothing she could do about that now. It was the past.

But there was something she could do about the future.

Slipping quietly out of her bed, she dressed. Her training kept her footsteps light and unnoticed as she moved along the hallway. The princes would be sleeping in the medical wing, no doubt under guard.

She would find them, and tell them of the council’s plan.

We can handle Eoin

If they could accept that, then she would leave in the morning, and prepare for the coming days as best she could.

If they could not accept it, she would take them with her.

She reached the medical rooms. Not surprisingly, the medical area and the mortuary area shared the same large area. It wasn’t the most sanitary, but in times of war, space was at a premium. Mara felt the bile come up into her move. The number of children laying on the metal tables was almost too much to bear.

Mara rounded the corner and saw Dylan. Two guards were nearby, their eyes heavy from watching their charges with such intensity. Eoin was nearby, his body monitored by various different machines. Heart rate, breath rate, electrolyte levels, energy levels. Everything seemed so ordinary and safe.

“Who approaches?” called out one of the guards, his eyes and posture now alert.

Dammit.

“It’s all right,” said Dylan with a smile as he sat up in bed. “It is our friend, Mara. Couldn’t sleep either, huh?”

Mara came out of the shadows, a small smile playing on her lips.

“Our adventures have been on our mind of late,” she allowed. “How are you feeling, Prince Dylan? Any change to Prince Eoin?”

“No change, in either case, I’m afraid,” he answered with a rueful smile. “He’s still unconscious, and I’m still tired, and a bit hungry. Perhaps the soldiers would be kind enough to get us something to eat.”

“Your highness–” answered the soldier, “I don’t think–”

“Oh, don’t worry,” said Dylan, his young face looking at the soldier with easy confidence. The kitchen area is just down the hall. Besides, I would rather visit with my friend in private.”

The two guards looked at each other, shrugged and walked towards the door.

“We will be back in a few moments,” one of them said, his eyes narrowing slightly as he walked past Mara. “And a simple word will bring us back faster than that.”

Mara nodded, noticing the impressive weapons that they carried. The guns alone would rip her, and the room apart with one or two shots.

Once they were gone, Dylan sat up in bed and motioned her over.

“So, why are you here?” he asked easily. “I doubt this is a social call, really.”

“No it’s not, so I’ll be quick.”

“Okay,”

Mara sat down on his bed, and leaned in close, her voice and words low and rapid.

“I think the council plans to use Eoin, and his keeper nature as a weapon, somehow controlling his power when it begins to unleash in such a way as to create a very powerful and destructive weapon. It would undoubtedly end this war, and Dyteria would undoubtedly be the victor. But–”

She glanced at the boy. His eyes were wide, and he nodded quickly at her to continue.

“–but in creating the weapon, Eoin, and possibly you would be sacrificed in the process. You and many, many others would lose their lives as the weapon is created and used, and defended against.”

“So that’s why the war ministers came to visit us,” breathed Dylan. “It did seem strange.”

Mara nodded. Another piece falling into place.

“What can we do? I don’t want Eoin to become a weapon. I don’t want us to die.”

“There are two options from what I can see. The first option is to stay here and fight. Use your royal status and influence to prevent the council from using Eoin as such a weapon. The second option is to come with me, right now and travel to Sytarmia. It is a neutral country that welcomes refugees from both of the kingdoms. We should be able to blend in there.”

“But they’ll follow us,” said Dylan. “Won’t they follow us?”

Mara shook her head.

“Not if they believe that you are already dead.” She looked around purposely. “In war, one child’s body looks much like any other. Often identification is made through clothing or jewelry.”

Dylan looked down at the signet ring that hung around his neck. A matching one was on the table beside Eoin. A look of determination came into his face.

“OK. Let’s go.”

“Go where?” asked the guard from the doorway, his eyes narrowing slightly. A cup and a plate of snacks balanced in his hands.

“Nowhere you need to be concerned about,” said Mara with a smile. “Dylan?”

“Yes?”

“Prepare yourself.”

Dylan’s eyes widened, and he bounded out of the bed and bolted out to his brother. Frantically he removed the monitors from his brother, the needles leaving superficial wounds in their wake.

Mara narrowed her gaze and brought her hands together. She began to mutter under her breath.

“What the–,” said the guard, the plate and cup dropped and forgotten as he began to pull up his weapon and move forward. The second guard puzzled by his partner’s action mirrored them nonetheless.

Good. The closer they were, the easier it would be to contain.

“Revertamini ad me et vos nasci denuo. Revertamini ad me et vos nasci denuo. Revertamini ad me et vos nasci denuo.”

Mara saw Dylan dragging his brother out of the bed and inching toward the door. The guards let them pass. They were there to protect them after all. A soldier from Terria was in their mist. Mara almost smiled at the simplicity of their thinking. She forced herself not to think of the pain she was causing Eoin. It was temporary, she reasoned.

“Revertamini ad me et vos nasci denuo. Revertamini ad me et vos nasci denuo. Revertamini ad me et vos nasci denuo.”

Mara felt the energy well up inside her, felt the guard pull the trigger once, and then again. The searing pain in her shoulder was registered but somehow ignored.

“Revertamini ad me et vos nasci denuo. Revertamini ad me et vos nasci denuo. Revertamini ad me et vos nasci denuo.”

“Oh shit! She’s one of them! The gun won’t work! Give the alarm!”

Mara moved her hand slightly, and the guard’s communication devices were transformed into hunks of metal and wire. Another motion pulled them into the room with her.

“Revertamini ad me et vos nasci denuo. Revertamini ad me et vos nasci denuo. Revertamini ad me et vos nasci denuo.”

The guards crashed into each other, regrouped and came again, their eyes crazed with pain and desperation. Mara’s eyes narrowed, and the nearby bed burst into flames, and a monitor blew apart, sending shrapnel into the guard’s side. His strangled cry was cut short as his windpipe was crushed under the force of the energy.

“Revertamini ad me et vos nasci denuo. Revertamini ad me et vos nasci denuo. Revertamini ad me et vos nasci denuo.”

Mara brought her hands together and centered her focus more than she ever had before. She had only one chance to get this right. One guard was already dead. She had no desire to kill the other.

The boys were near the door, but they weren’t out of the room yet.

“REVERTAMINI AD ME ET VOS NASCI DENUO!”

The power erupted from Mara, causing the world around her to explode. The final guard was blown back to the far side of the room, the last thing his eyes saw was a violent explosion ripping through the other half of the room, the two signet rings hot and partially melted rolling to a stop nearby. His eyes blinked once, and then again as the darkness caved in, footsteps and shouts echoing in his mind as he lost consciousness.
Three days later, Mara, Dylan and Eoin entered the kingdom of Sytarmia, just three more refugees that were without home or title in this war-torn world. They were welcomed without comment, and without fanfare. They were given shelter in a makeshift tent, along with twelve other people.

“You’ll be safe here,” said Mara. “I’m going to see what I can find out about this new place.”

Dylan nodded.

“We’ll be okay here,” he said easily as he looked around. “Please be careful in your travel, Mara.”

Mara nodded.

They both understood that they would part ways here. At least for a little while. It was safer that way.

Mara smiled, and uncharacteristically took Dylan into an embrace. She then kissed Eoin on the top of his head.

“You do the same,” she said.

Dylan watched Mara walk out into the throng of people. He watched her back until he could see her no more.

Turning back to his brother, he sat down and sighed.

“It’s all right, Eoin,” he said quietly. “It looks like the plan worked. But wait until later tonight to wake up. Just to be on safe side.”

The faintest of smiles passed over Eoin’s face for the briefest of moments.

The End.

© 2015, Laura Seeber. All rights reserved.

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