She kept running and couldn’t stop. It was her fault. It was her fault for being a coward, for not being able to face herself or Gethin. It was her fault for taking her damning curiosity where it wasn’t wanted when she actually liked him. It was her fault for being Elfie. She ran until she came to the house, where she lived with her father, Valerius, and her mother, the Lady Reinelda. Not that the title meant anything, anymore. She paused, breathing heavily. She opened the door, and there was her mother.
‘’ Elfreda,’’ she said, the tone closed, clipped. She held her head high, and her flaxen hair was styled in long ornate braids. Just as if they were not living in the middle of a forest. Elfie stood outside, fully conscious of the wreck she knew her mother must see in her, fully conscious that she was more Valerius’s child, than Lady Reinald’s daughter. ‘’Come in.’’
That night as Gethin slept he dreamt, and though he dreamt he could not escape the horror. He dreamed of Liadan, Liadan who had refused to come with him, refused to escape a life of evil masters. But in the dream, it was he who had left her.
‘’ Gethin!’’ cried his sister. Her frail hands were tightly bound. The overlords were taking her away . . . somewhere. He was like stone, unable to stop them, unable to help her escape whatever fate awaited her. Gavon and Gethin sat across from each other between the table in the great hall. Gavon looked at Gethin with concern. His eyes were weary, more weary than he had ever seen them before, and it was morning, the start of a day.
‘’ Gethin, what is it? Gethin?’’ Gethin tilted his head back, and remained silent for a moment, as if thinking about what he wanted to tell.
‘’ Dreams, Gavon. What do you know about dreams?’’
‘’ Dreams, well, they can powerful things, sometimes magnificent, sometimes horrible, but what are you asking?’’
‘’ I had a dream, a dream about Liadan, and it was nothing, nothing, like what happened!’’
‘’ Do you want to describe it?’’
‘’ I was frozen, Gavon, completely frozen; they were taking her away and there was nothing I could do about it!’’
‘’ Who?’’ asked Gavon.
‘’ The overlords,’’ he said, in a hushed, menacing tone.
‘’ She haunts you. I’m sorry, very sorry, and bound . . .’’ murmured Gavon.
‘’ You have been so helpful.’’ said Gethin sarcastically.
He turned his eyes away from Gavon, and ate his breakfast in silence. Valerius surveyed the rebels of Raehaddon. Within weeks they would be ready for the next attack. His daughter stood among them, his bold, beautiful, laughing daughter. She was like steel, shining, resilient; she had responded in the only way she could. It was after Daire’s death that they had and he had become leader of the rebels of Raehaddon. She had been so close to her little brother.
It was his fault that Daire was dead. It was his fault for provoking the overlords. Elfreda’s brother had been made an example of. She had been forced to watch Daire’s body burn in the flames while only a young girl. He remembered the screams, the screams until she had learned to fight, until she had power. She had spoken to him of Gethin.
Maybe in time he would not simply take refuge in Raehaddon, but fight alongside them. Of course, Gethin knew nothing yet. By the way she spoke of him, Valerius could hazard a guess at a few other things as well. Not that he said a word. Definitely not. Perhaps it was crime, but somedays he felt that he would still provoke the overlords just to have his daughter beside him. ‘
’ You could be one of the rebels of Raehaddon, fight against those who have wronged you,’’ said Elfreda, looking at Gethin.
Gethin stared at Elfreda. ‘’ You would be good. I know it. I can see it in your walk, your eyes . . .’’ She leaned close to Gethin, closer than he was comfortable with.
‘’ You would love it, the flash of your blade driving deep into an overlord’s throat. You would be fulfilled as their blood spilled out. You could be one of us. Think about it.’’
With that she left him.
Perhaps she was a traitor, perhaps she was the villain, but she would never be a monster. Unlike Gethin.
She sat down in a chair near Marta’s table, Marta who could never guess that her young, seemingly guileless friend was a spy. Liadan had bound herself to this life the moment she walked into the house of the overlord’s. Liadan knew her deception to be too easy; Marta chatted freely about her concerns.
Her husband was one of the rebels of Raehaddon. She planned on going with him someday but could not think of leaving her closest relatives behind. Her husband, a devoted man, always found ways to send word of what was happening. Liadan took her information from an open hand.
‘’ How fare you Marta, and your family?’’ asked Liadan. ‘
’ It is as always,’’ she replied, but then with a smile waved a piece of paper in the air. ‘’
But look! I have got word.’’ Liadan smiled innocently.
‘’ What does he say?’’ asked Liadan. ‘’ He is well,’’ she replied, and paused. Please go on, thought Liadan to herself, images of comforts and riches floating through her mind. Marta continued.
‘’ The rebels plan to attack Kinton next,’’ she said. Her face momentarily clouded.
‘’ The attack at Brilind almost failed; they knew-somehow. Who would’ve told them?’’
‘’ Not a clue,’’ replied Liadan with a sweet, wistful smile.
Gethin and Gavon took a walk. ‘’ I have a chance, Gavon,’’ said Gethin
‘’ This place could be more to me than a place of refuge. It could mean more to me than simply a new life.’’
Gavon guessed too easily what Gethin was about to say next.
‘’ I, I could be avenged!’’ Gethin’s eyes blazed, glorying in the path he saw before him.
‘’ Tread carefully, Gethin,’’ said Gavon.
‘’ I have no fear,’’ said Gethin arrogantly.
‘’ Don’t you?’’ asked Gavon. For a moment, less than a second, Gethin’s eyes wavered.
‘’ There is fire in you Gethin; you are a forest waiting to be consumed.’’
‘’ Would you deny the claim of justice?’’ asked Gethin, his tone tinged with wrath.
‘’ You forget that your father was my friend,’’ said Gavon.
‘’ And you forget the deepest claim, the claim of blood. Due to manner of my father’s death, my vengeance lies not on one, but on all members of that race.’’