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Authors: Callie Kanno

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BOOK: The Threshold Child
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He continued to pace for a moment longer before pausing to glance
at the Shimat still standing at attention. He dismissed the first two, but
addressed the third.

“Where is the girl?”

The Shimat was confused. “Shar?”

“The girl,” he repeated impatiently. “The girl that they
threatened in order to stop Adesina.”

“She is being held in one of the cells until it is decided what is
to be done with her.”

“I am surprised they did not take her with them,” Kendan murmured
to himself.

The Shimat answered, even though this wasn’t directed at him.
“They tried, Shar, but she fought back.”

Kendan turned his back on the Shimat, his expression weighed down
in sorrow. She had been given the opportunity to escape this life of murder and
lies, but she had not known to take it. He wished that she had gone with them.
He wished that
he
had gone with them.

An idea came to him, and he straightened slowly. “Bring her to
me.”

“What?” came the startled reply.

He turned sharply on the Shimat. “Bring her to me!”

The man scrambled to obey. He rushed out of the room, leaving
Kendan by himself.

The young man slowly moved around his desk to sit down. There was
nothing more that he could do for Adesina, except perhaps save her friend from
execution or a life of imprisonment. He wanted to do that much for the woman he
loved.

If nothing else, he had to do at least that.

 

***

 

Adesina stared at the three burial mounds that now covered the
remains of her friends. There had been an emotional discussion about whether or
not to take the bodies back to Pevothem with them. In the end, no matter how
many tears were shed by all parties, it was decided that they could not risk
the delay.

The holes in the ground were dug as quickly as possible, and
therefore not as deep as one would wish. The words spoken over them were brief,
then the group hurried to prepare for their flight. Much time had passed since
their escape, and they were certain to be followed.

L’iam and Adesina continued to stand beside the mounds. He reached
over and took her hand, speaking in a strained voice.

“What if they dig her back up and use her in their experiments?”

Adesina didn’t have an answer for him right away. She thought
about it for a moment, trying to find some words of comfort.

The graves were conspicuous by the freshly overturned earth. It
was very likely that the Shimat would come across them as they tracked the
escaped prisoners.

As she considered this, and idea suddenly came to her. She
connected to her
vyala
and sent
energy into the ground. She searched for the seeds that had been left in the
dirt and helped them to flourish. It only took a few moments for young grass to
spread over the mounds.

L’iam gave her hand a squeeze by way of thanks and she smiled at
him. “No one would guess that these graves were new.”

He nodded in agreement. “I hope that no one will guess that they are
graves at all. I want her body to rest peacefully.”

Ravi appeared at her side with a concerned expression on his face.
“Ma’eve, we must hurry. A search party has been sent, and they are only a few
miles behind us.”

She didn’t question how he had come by this knowledge. Instead,
she let go of L’iam’s hand and hurried back to where the group had gathered.
There were eighteen L’avan, but only eleven horses. They doubled up where they
could, trying to evenly distribute the weight of the riders with the strength
of the horses.

L’iam gave the reigns of his horse to Me’shan and helped another
L’avan to mount. Then he walked over to Adesina and offered to help her up.

She gave him a questioning look. “Are you riding with me?”

He smiled wearily. “Yes. I fear I will be too distracted if I try
riding on my own.”

She understood that he was talking about L’era. She also would
have trouble focusing if she had lost her own brother. Adesina touched his arm
briefly in a sign of sympathy and then climbed into her saddle. L’iam mounted
behind her, putting his arms around her waist.

She looked back to make sure that everyone was situated, then she
spurred her horse into a run. They galloped through the woods and out into the
open grassland. Adesina did her best to provide a shield that would hide them
from the eyes of any onlookers, but she was so tired that she was not certain
if she was successful.

They rode hard, not stopping for any breaks. L’iam fed energy into
the horses, but they could only push them so far. Eventually, they had to find
a secluded area to hide while they rested.

They found a small cluster of knolls amid the open plains. The
L’avan rode into the middle of the hills and dismounted. Adesina immediately
lay on the ground, letting the energy of her surroundings seep into her body.

L’iam hurried to get her some water before seeing to the others.
When she was finally left on her own, a few feet from the rest of the group,
she closed her eyes and took a deep breath.

The Dream came without warning.

Adesina felt herself pulled into it forcibly, leaving her
disoriented. She turned in a circle, trying to get her bearings.

She was standing in the field of carnage she had seen in the Dream
she had before entering the fortress. Bodies were strewn everywhere, lying in
pools of their own blood. The stench of rot came upon her in waves, and the
deathly silence chilled her heart.

“Ma’eve.”

She whirled around to see who had spoken and saw E’rian walking
towards her.

She gasped in relief. “Mother! What are you doing here?”

“You must hurry, Ma’eve. Your mission is far from over.”

Adesina stared at her in confusion. “What do you mean?”

E’rian gestured to the scene of horror around them. “It is not
over. Only you have the power to bring it to an end.”

She felt her stomach clench. “Do you mean this is really
happening? Is Pevothem under attack?”

Her mother didn’t answer her question, but looked up at the sky,
which was swirling black and crimson. “Things will get much worse before they
get better.”

In the distance she heard someone calling her name, and she felt
that the Dream was coming to an end.

She quickly turned back to E’rian. “Mother, what should I do?”

The older woman shook her head sadly. “Only you can decide, my
child.”

The pull of her own world was becoming stronger.

“What if I choose wrong?” she asked desperately. “What if I cannot
do what is expected of me?”

Sorrow leached over the light of E’rian’s delicate features. For
the first time since Adesina had known her, she looked weary.

She tried to smile in encouragement, but it fell short. “You are
stronger than you know, Ma’eve. You will choose right because you want to do
right. Trust yourself and trust those around you.”

Adesina could fight the call of her own world no longer. She
closed her eyes and allowed herself to cross over.

She jerked awake and sat up to find Ravi and L’iam right next to
her. L’iam placed a hand on her shoulder.

“Adesina! Are you all right?”

She nodded, feeling strangely heavy. “I am fine.”

Ravi’s golden eyes were ominous as he studied her face. “Your
Dream, Ma’eve. What did it show you?”

As she looked at him, she had another flash of intuition. He had
been having the same Dream over and over again ever since they had first seen
it together. He already knew what was happening in the L’avan homeland. In
his
homeland.

She got to her feet without answering his question. The look on
her face told him everything he needed to know.

“We need to go.”

L’iam looked between them with a bemused expression on his face.
“Why? What is happening?”

Adesina did her best to shake off his concerns. “There is no time
to argue. We need to get back home.”

They alerted the group that they would be leaving again, and
everyone quickly climbed on their mounts. The horses were doing their best to
maintain the pace set for them, but it wore on them as time passed. Even the
energy that L’iam gave them was not enough.

Finally they stopped to get some sleep. Adesina volunteered for
the first watch, even though she was completely exhausted from the drain of her
vyala
. Ravi sat up with her and, to
her surprise, so did L’iam and Me’shan.

“How far behind are the Shimat?” asked her father.

Her eyes narrowed in worry. “Not far enough.”

L’iam studied her face. “Can we afford to stop, then?”

She sighed. “Not really, but we have no choice. They must rest
their horses as well, and more frequently than we have. That gives us a bit of
time.”

L’iam reached over and took her hand, his face bearing the
heartbroken expression that told her he was thinking of his sister. She pressed
his hand with both of hers, doing her best to comfort him.

“Was it all for nothing?” he asked quietly. “Did I throw away
L’era’s life?”

Adesina wasn’t sure she had an answer for him. Yes, the mission
had saved a number of L’avan, but the loss of L’era and Aleron seemed like a
tragic waste. It had appeared as if fate had been keeping them together, but
the only result had been their deaths. How could that have been their fates?

She gave his hand a squeeze and sighed. “I wish I had an answer
for you, L’iam, but I do not. I have seen terrible things happen to good
people, and no one deserved to live more than your sister. However, I am
starting to believe that nothing ever happens without a reason, even if we do
not know what that reason may be.”

L’iam’s cheek twitched in a sort of half smile. “You are starting
to sound like a woman of faith.”

Adesina also smiled. “I will not deny that I have seen some
miraculous things since I completed my Shimat training. Perhaps there is
some
sense of order in the chaos of life.”

“A fine concession,” he said in a teasing tone.

Me’shan watched this exchange with a guarded look to his eyes.
Adesina took note of this and gave him a questioning glance.

He tried to draw her attention elsewhere. “They say that you can
Dream.”

It was her turn to scrutinize him guardedly. “Yes.”

“What is it like?” he asked in a fascinated tone of voice.

Adesina couldn’t help but smile at his obvious interest. “It is
like being awake, only more vivid. Colors seem richer, smells are more clear,
emotions are more powerful.”

“What do you Dream about?”

Her mind immediately turned to the most recent Dream and she
shuddered involuntarily. The only one that seemed to notice was L’iam, who was
still holding her hand. His brow furrowed, but she hurried to act as if nothing
had happened.

“Most of the time I see Mother.”

Me’shan’s eyes fixed on her in shock. “You…you see E’rian?”

Adesina nodded. “I am able to speak with her spirit.”

The longing in her father’s eyes was almost unbearable. “What does
she say?”

She leaned back and closed her eyes, imagining her mother’s face
before her. “She was the one who showed me the truth about the Shimat order.
She showed me why I was raised by them.”

He frowned, perplexed. “Showed?”

“Through her memories and the memories of others.”

Me’shan sighed and also closed his eyes. “Her spirit was always
even more beautiful than her face. She must be radiant.”

Adesina smiled softly. “Yes, she is very beautiful.”

“I wish I could see her again. Just once, to tell her I am sorry
for not protecting her as I should have. To tell her that I still love her.”

There was so much pain in his voice that Adesina felt tears swell
in her eyes. “Perhaps someday we can try to Dream together.”

He straightened immediately. “Is that possible?”

Her eyes strayed to L’iam, who was staring into the darkness. “I
do not know. Others have Dreamed with me before.”

“Why not now?” he asked eagerly.

Adesina quickly shook her head. She didn’t want to run the risk of
taking him into the field of death that her Dreams showed her. “Not now. Later,
when we get home.”

They sat and talked for quite a while longer, getting to know each
other better. L’iam and Ravi said very little, but refused to leave Adesina’s
side. When her shift of keeping watch was over, the four of them laid down on
the hard ground and tried to go to sleep. Adesina was afraid that she would
Dream again, but her sleep was undisturbed.

The L’avan traveled in this manner for several days. They pushed
as hard as they possibly could, but Adesina still had the feeling that the
Shimat were drawing closer.

BOOK: The Threshold Child
10.66Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub
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