Chapter 18 pt.1

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 Chapter Eighteen

In which Lord Maslyn becomes a man of action...

The kitchen was vacant. That was not so unusual, Soryn allowed. It was nearing bedtime after all. He hoped the women were safely tucked in their beds, but something told him this would not be the case. Stigg stormed into the main room and scowled. Both men looked at each other when they saw that it, too, was empty. Not a sound could be heard—no creaking of the bed in the back bedroom, no laughter or conversation. It was unearthly quiet. No one was in the cottage at all. There was no sign of struggle or attack. Everything was in its place and tidy.

Stigg scowled and violently ran his hands through his hair. “Check everything—look for any sign of what could have happened. I’ll check the barn.”

Soryn nodded, feeling the dread smother him. Something was very wrong. In the interest of remaining calm, he searched everywhere for a note, a clue, something to help them know what had happened. The kitchen and main room were no help. However, in the back bedroom discreetly settled on the chair underneath the window was a scrawled note that read:

We’ve gone after them. He’s headed for the mountains.

 

“Stigg!” Soryn shouted, taking the paper with him as he ran to the barn.

Stigg was still inspecting the stalls in case someone had hidden there. He looked up when Soryn came in.

“What did you find?”

“We have to go, now! They’re up in the mountains. We may still be able to catch their trail,” Soryn panted as he began undoing saddle ties from the hooks on the barn wall.

“Soryn.”

“Hurry up! We have to catch them!” Soryn yelled, frightened beyond thought.

“It’s going to be alright. We can handle this. You can handle this. Arna will be alright,” Stigg promised, his eyes sincere.

Putting a hand on Soryn’s shoulder, Stigg nodded his support. Soryn nodded in return and continued to loosen the saddle from the wall. Stigg sprang into action, saddling Ivan within minutes. Soryn had Sable saddled in comparable time. Apparently, Fenris did not care if they followed him—if it was in fact Fenris they were pursuing. They rode as quickly as the horses would tolerate. The path snaked around the front of the cottage and into the woods—approaching the mountains from the east. Stigg sneered at the petty attempt to throw them off the trail.

Though Stigg was not a religious man, he prayed the entire way that his promise to Soryn would ring true. Adrenaline pumped through his veins when he thought about what could happen when they made it to the mountains. He pushed the thoughts away and focused only on the trail ahead of him and following as fast as he could. There was no way to tell how much of a head start Fenris had. Occasionally, he looked back at Soryn to see how the young man was doing.

Soryn sat, grim-faced in the saddle. A murderous tint shrouded Lord Maslyn’s eyes. More than that, he was afraid. More afraid than he had ever been in his life. All he could think about was Arna, taken by a fiend into the mountains for some unknown purpose. He worried for the women who had become like grandmothers to him. He worried that he and Stigg would be able to do nothing to save them. They made it to the base of the mountain and saw the path the others had taken. There was no way for them to tell how far behind they were, because of the snowy trees that guarded the way. A few minutes up, they met Valkyrie. She was badly hurt and groaning on the ground. Soryn dismounted and went to the old woman. She panted and clutched her leg.

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