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Authors: Dan O'Sullivan

The Fallen (Book 1) (12 page)

BOOK: The Fallen (Book 1)
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Chapter 12

Little Guardian

 

The return journey from the Land of
Daoine Maithe was uneventful. Valeska once again led the group. In a pack on her back she carried a few possessions and she now walked beside the King’s Marshall. Danil had spent much time with Tiernan and Karrijeuiga and his questions had been answered in full. Tiernan found that Danil was becoming adept at concealing his thoughts and feelings at will, a trait not often found in humans and he found this intriguing. Eventually Danil allowed Tiernan and Karrijeuiga to search his heart fully and they spent much time evaluating his thoughts and emotions. Danil endured the silent questioning patiently and opened his heart to the two guardians. Finally Karrijeuiga withdrew her mind from his and spoke aloud.


I find nothing false in this man, Tiernan. He’s an honest man, loyal and honorable.’


Yes, he’s a good man. I wonder is he knows what’s happening to him?’

Danil
looked from Tiernan to Karri. ‘What’s happening to me?’


Do you wish to continue down the path you have chosen – with our Lady Valeska?’ asked Karrijeuiga.


I do wish this,’ Danil stated emphatically, leaving no doubt as to his sincerity.


You will change Danil, if you do this,’ said Karri. ‘The change is irreversible.’


How will I change?’


I know you already feel the changes beginning,’ said Tiernan, ‘and that you have shown such control over your thoughts in a remarkably short time, means that you are further down this path than I had expected.’


How will I change, please?’ Danil repeated.


If you are joined with the Lady Valeska, you will become a guardian. It has already begun. If you don’t wish this to happen you must leave now and never return. You must have no contact with Valeska and your thoughts must remain separate. But even now I think it’s too late to stop this happening.’


Yes. I think you’re right. It may be too late,’ Danil agreed, his face reddening. He pressed his lips together and avoided looking at Tiernan.


Have you bonded?’


Er…yes, we…bonded.’ Danil’s face was now bright red. ‘It was raining and there was this cave and then…’ He exhaled heavily and looked back up into Tiernan’s eyes. If he must have his most intimate thoughts examined, he would rather not have to speak aloud.


Good,’ said Tiernan, sounding relieved. ‘I cannot allow you to take the Lady Valeska as your wife unless you are bonded absolutely…and I see that I need not be concerned. To become husband and wife, it is our law that guardians must bond first. You see, bonding
is
marriage. If you bond, you are already married, which explains why you are changing.’

Danil sat in stunned silence for a long moment.
‘Please tell me
exactly
what will happen.’


You will no longer have the freedom of the human race. You will become a servant of your Creator forsaking your right to a death by age, but remaining here until He calls you or you are returned by accidental means. You will serve the human race as your duty and your desire and you will never again be able to put your wellbeing over a single human life. Your duties will be uncomfortable and harsh and some tasks you will find abhorrent. You will live where we choose for you to live and you will serve and protect the humans we choose for you to serve.’ Tiernan watched Danil’s face closely as he spoke. Danil face was emotionless as he listened then it split into a wide grin.


Supreme Majesty! I think I just enlisted!’ He burst out laughing at the thought. Tiernan and Karrijeuiga laughed with him.


Yes, Soldier. I can see quite a number of similarities. Your loyalty and honor are above question. However,’ Tiernan’s face turned serious, ‘the choice isn’t entirely yours to make.’


No,’ agreed Danil. ‘It’s not mine at all. It’s for His Majesty to decide my path and I shall honor his wishes. I won’t break my oath,’ he said then he added, ‘and if my King commands me to leave this place I shall leave without a doubt, but part of me shall forever remain with Valeska.’

There was a movement from outside the open door and King Dannicus stepped through.
‘Normally I’d have to ask Administrator Tappy exactly what the regulations are for this sort of thing. I don’t know what I’d do without Tappy! But since he’s not here, Lord Tiernan, do you have a law against me having a guardian as my King’s Marshall?’

Tiernan
shook his head. ‘It’s unprecedented but it’s acceptable, Majesty.’


Then I see no difficulty,’ continued Dannicus. ‘His duties as King’s Marshall and as a guardian appear compatible and in most cases analogous.’

Tiernan
gestured to a guardian standing near the doorway. ‘Please send for the Lady Valeska.’

The group
waited in companionable silence for Valeska to arrive, and Danil stood as she entered the room.

Tiernan
motioned for Valeska to stand before him. ‘Lady Valeska, guardian, do you wish to be with this man?’

Lady Valeska stared up at
Tiernan, hope pouring from her gaze. ‘Yes my Lord, I do.’

Tiernan turned to Danil.
‘King’s Marshall Danil of Castle, we hereby give the Lady Valeska into your care. Do you accept this charge?’


I accept this charge.’


And should she wish to return to this land, you won’t hinder her?’


I won’t hinder her, my Lord.’


Do you understand that the changes in your life are irreversible, even should you not remain with Valeska?’


I understand.’


Are you aware that your desire will be to serve, and your duty will be to humans until you are returned?’


Yes, my Lord. I do. Please tell me, what happens to me after I return?’

Tiernan
hesitated. ‘I think you would be given a choice. Even if you choose the duties of a guardian until you return, you are still one of the children.’

Danil
looked sideways at Lady Valeska, now walking at his side, and her smile was radiant. He thought back over the strange celebration which was the guardian’s equivalent to a marriage ceremony. The Lady Karrijeuiga directed the proceedings which consisted mostly of beautiful music, singing and a shared meal. He knelt before the Daoine Maithe and made vows of protection and loyalty. He could barely believe that this beautiful guardian had become his wife.

Yarrabyth walked on the other side of Valeska and he was
also smiling. Danil wondered if he somehow knew what would happen when he suggested the little cave in the side of the mountain. Yarrabyth’s thoughts came to him.


When we were at the caves I couldn’t sense your thoughts clearly, but I have ever been able to sense my sister’s thoughts.’


Your sister?’ Danil stopped walking.


Yes she’s my sister.’ Yarrabyth and Valeska also stopped. ‘Tiernan has given me permission to remain in Alkira.’

Danil laughed.
‘I was worried Valeska might be lonely having no family in Castle.’


King Dannicus has agreed to have me serve as…well you would call me an ambassador. And I imagine when the little guardian arrives Valeska will need all the help she can get.’

Danil
stared at Yarrabyth in shock. ‘
Little
guardian?’

Yarrabyth said vaguely,
‘Not many guardians have children Danil, but I can hope for you.’ He gazed past Danil into the surrounding bush land as if looking for something.


Yarra,’ said Valeska. ‘Tell me.’

Yarrabyth
’s eyes twinkled, and he wore a smirk on his face. ‘Valeska,’ he said in mock admonishment, ‘I leave you in a cave with a soldier and now I find you carrying his child!’

Valeska and Danil just stood staring at him, unable to believe his words.

‘How…how do you know?’ Danil eventually stuttered.


I have an acute sense of life, Danil. It’s my gift. I’ve been able to sense a very faint life growing within Valeska’s presence. I can hear its soul whispering. Usually I cannot sense a new life immediately, but perhaps this is stronger because I’m her brother.’ Valeska continued to stare at Yarrabyth, looking completely dazed. ‘Valeska, there are other signs. Didn’t you notice how easily Danil sees your mind?’


I noticed from the moment I met him. Do you think Tiernan and Karri knew of the child?’

Yarrabyth considered this for a moment.
‘I don’t know. They did seem to see that Danil was changing incredibly quickly and I cannot imagine any other reason this would happen, so yes, they probably realized.’


Danil…’ Valeska paused. Danil was looking at her with fierce and protective love and passion. A light seemed to be coming from within him and he swelled with pride.


We’re going to have a child!’ his voice was a cry of delight which caused King Dannicus to stop.  


Yes, King’s Marshall. So the Lord and Lady informed me.’ He smiled at Danil.

Hours later they crossed the border into Alkira. Danil now
walked with King Dannicus and the two spoke about their time within the Dwellings. Once on Alkiran soil Danil ordered a rest stop. The King had decided that the soldiers should not be free to discuss most of what they had seen in the Land of Daoine Maithe so Danil took this time to inform the men of the Kings request.


By order of His Majesty all soldiers present are forbidden to discuss details of the Land of the guardians without prior consent from myself.’ Danil stopped as the soldiers began to look one to another in confusion.


What details, sir?’ an old Sergeant asked Danil carefully.


Anything with regard to the Dwellings, the guardians or any discussion you may have heard between guardians and the King.’


Sir?’ another soldier looked quizzically at the King’s Marshall.

A smile spread over Valeska
’s face. She addressed the confused group of soldiers. ‘What do you remember?’

The soldiers stared at her with dazed and blank expressions. Eventually
a Sergeant answered. ‘It was…raining?’


But nice,’ another soldier added. ‘I think?’


Mmmm…it was nice,’ agreed the Sergeant.


At ease men,’ said Danil and the soldiers broke out rations and sat to eat. He turned back to King Dannicus, Yarrabyth and Valeska. ‘They don’t remember, do they?’


Not a thing,’ Yarrabyth confirmed. ‘I have caused them to forget. It’s better this way.’

Danil
gazed at Valeska. ‘But I will never forget.’ He smiled. Life was good.

 

Chapter 13

Cullen Ringo

 

The visit to Governor Ringo and Lady Megan
was difficult. Kelian wrestled with the desire to bypass Cullen Ringo altogether but his conscience won and the group travelled north. They needed to pick up supplies anyway and if Kelian didn’t stop to inform the Governor of the situation and the Governor found out by other means, Kelian was sure Gelgiran and Megan would be in even worse despair…if that was possible. The group arrived looking like weary and disheveled travelers, none having shaved and all quite dirty. Fortunately the Governor was careful to employ servants of quality and the Gate Master recognized the Prince from a distance. Before the group approached he sent for the Governor who arrived minutes later. One look at the expression on Kelian’s face told him that he was about to receive some very bad news. There was no easy way for Kelian to tell Gelgiran what had happened; a parent’s worst nightmare, and Kelian’s voice was hoarse with anguish as he spoke to the Governor. They were taken to the same lovely sitting room where Kelian had asked the Governor for permission to ask Elena to marry him. After the fiasco at Lady Megan’s birthday party he and Elena had been inseparable. Immosey and Louisa moved between astonishment at the sudden relationship between the two and spending their time teasing their sister. Kelian had eyes only for Elena but he found himself feeling very protective of all of the girls and Immosey and Louisa became like his own sisters. The Governor and Lady Megan watched in astonishment as mere weeks after the party the Prince of Alkira and Heir to the Throne stood before them and requested permission to ask Elena to marry him. Gelgiran’s response at the time was inappropriate from shock and disbelief.


Surely you jest Highness. As Prince of Alkira you may marry whomever you choose, permission or not.’

Kelian laughed openly at this outburst and agreed, b
ut he explained to the Governor, ‘I would prefer to have your blessing Lord Gelgiran.’ The Governor apologized many times for his words and there was never a prouder man than he, as he watched his daughter and the Prince together.

Gelgiran
chose to break the news of their daughters’ disappearance to Lady Megan in privacy and when the Lady eventually came forth to greet the Prince it was with a white face and red rimmed eyes filled with tears.


You are going after them?’ asked the Governor, keeping his arm around his son as he eyed the dangerous looking group surrounding the Prince. Gilgarry had made it clear that he would be remaining with Kelian.


Yes. We think they’re going south past the Emerald Mountains and along the Ice Coast. We will go through Skeleton’s Rest and south across the Plains of Old Sagria, if you would be so kind as to loan us horses.’


By the time they cross the Ice Coast they won’t get past the Barren Lake.’ Gelgiran paused. ‘Weema?’ he asked, his eyes narrowing. ‘What’s at Weema?’


We think Nandul is at Weema, Governor,’ Kelian answered, feeling impressed that Gelgiran had worked it out so quickly.

The Governor
’s face whitened. ‘And what if you’re wrong, Highness? Do we have anyone following them around the Ice?’


Governor, when we caught up with Cassic’s company, Gilgarry was one of the few survivors. We thought to follow immediately before the trail became cold. We found Cassic dead and no sign of the two soldiers who should have been with him.’


Gelgiran and I will go south,’ said Lady Megan. ‘If the girls escape they will need help. I cannot stay here doing nothing when my children need me,’ she said desperately. ‘I must try to find them.’


My wife is an excellent tracker,’ Gelgiran explained. ‘She was raised west of Tarlique. Please Highness, don’t stop us going after our girls. We can travel light. I’m a reasonable hunter, at need.’

Kelian smiled. The Governor was well known to be one of the finest hunters in Alkira. If he said his wife was a good tracker she was probably even better than
Kelian could imagine.


I must go after my daughters Highness!’ she said looking determinedly at the Prince.


I would never deny you that right,’ said Kelian. ‘You may track them within Alkira but as your Prince I forbid you to cross over onto the Ice Coast. If you haven’t found the girls by then you must return here and trust me to find them and bring them back.’

Gelgiran
looked anxiously at Gilgarry. ‘My son, you are a fine soldier and a good man. Do you duty and return safely.’ Lady Megan moved over to Gelgiran and Gilgarry and the three embraced. ‘I love you my son,’ Gelgiran said worriedly. Lady Megan said nothing as tears poured down her face.

 

BOOK: The Fallen (Book 1)
6.35Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub
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