The one thing I was afraid to put any more faith in out of fear that it would let me down.
I should have known better than to ever lose hope, especially from a person like Dalton.
If there was anything he was good at, it was defying any odds laid out in front of him.
I blink hard a few times, almost afraid I'm imagining it all, the horses, the little lights, the man of my dreams running for me. But even after a few blinks he was still there, running down the hill and towards the little city opening. Towards me.
I slowly let go of my dad as my strength crept back into my limbs. It was shaky at first, but finally I broke out into a run, shoving through hordes of people until I came out in the front, just in time to meet him as his boots hit the gravel.
I crash into his chest and his arms circle me, holding me to him desperately. "I was afraid I'd be too late." He whispers into my ear and I cry out at the joy of hearing his voice again.
"I was afraid I'd never see you again." I grab his neck and pull him closer.
"Oh, baby, me too." He nods against me, holding me so tight that it hurts but I don't even care about the pain. The pain means I'm still alive and so is Dalton. For how long, I don't know, but for now it's all that matters. "I'm so sorry."
That statement brings me back and I step back enough to punch him in the middle of the chest. "How could you just disappear like that?" I slap his chest again. "Do you have any idea how-." I don't get to finish because he grabs my shoulders and turns me to look to the side.
"I had to find them." He whispers into my ear, sending a shiver down my spine.
I can't focus on that though, not with the sight in front of me.
Dozens of them.
Black and white horses race forward encircling the perplexed armies.
As if that wasn't alone strange and crazy enough, each horse held a rider, and each rider wore a glowing stone. Some were necklaces, some head bands, others were bracelets.
"You found others like Rawul?" I glance back at him.
He looks rough, his skin and clothes covered in dirt, little bits of leaves stuck in his hair and his eyes are heavy with exhaustion, but he laces his fingers through mine. "I did." He nods. "I took the bracelet back in the ambush and immediately went to find the others. I knew there had to be more." He explained quickly. "I didn't know if I'd be able to though, and I didn't want to give anyone any false hope, so I made Rawul promise not to tell anyone what I was doing."
"I was so scared, Nathaniel and I tried to find you but couldn't."
"That's because I had the bracelet and then I was with them. They can't be tracked or seen. They are completely immune to all supernatural powers. I'm so sorry." He kisses the side of my face and I grab him, pulling him back in to kiss his lips. I never thought I'd see him again, much less kiss him.
"You're forgiven." I smile against his lips, then turn back to the strange people he brought with him. "Who are they?" I ask in awe. Each one looks so powerful even though they are really pretty ordinary. Their ages very from very young like Rawul is, to straight up elderly, but they hold themselves with such authority.
"They call themselves Custodes." Dalton tells me. "They're the guardians of this world."