Previously, Elektra and her brothers traveled to the family homestead and were greeted by their mother and father, Kratos and Necia. Elektra had a long conversation with her mother, and it was revealed that Necia practiced magic.
She had laid out my favorite hunting clothes from years ago. I was surprised she had still kept them. As I got dressed, I realized there was more to Mother than I knew. I had always thought she was weak for putting up with father’s ignorance and neglect. She was right about the land, too. King Ryszard had seized all the other homesteads and farms around us. I always thought it was because Father made weapons for the warriors, and had some kind of clout with the King. Now, I was not so sure.
Joyful music broke my serious thoughts as Uzziah began to play his wooden flute. Mother began to sing, and Tilliam and Father clapped along. I came out to the great room, and Uzziah motioned for me to come sit with him by the hearth, handing me a crude little wooden mouth organ to play. Mother pulled Tilliam up from his chair and they began to dance as the music got faster and faster. Uzziah and I began to challenge each other on our tune, taking turns with the melody and improvising back and forth. Father cracked a smile, picking up his fiddle and joining us, and the serious thoughts of the day faded away for a short time. The only thing that could have made it better was if Rubeus had been here with us. He wasn’t much of a singer, but he sure could beat a drum.
We finished the song, all of us laughing and happy to be together. Mother handed me a bowl of stew smelling of secret spices and memories. I could feel Father’s eyes upon me, and looked up to meet his gaze.
“Hello, Daughter. Your brothers have filled me in on some of the details. Do you want me to join you on this quest to take back your son?”
“Father, I…I…I didn’t think you would want to help us.”
“Why is that? We knock heads, it’s true, but blood is thicker than pride, don’t you think?”
I hadn’t expected this response. Kratos looked older, perhaps softer? His hair was now white, and thinning. He looked somehow smaller, less ominous than the fierce dark man who used to tower over me in height and attitude. I had noticed he walked a little slower, favoring one hip, and there was a masterfully carved cane hanging on the back of his chair. His gray eyes showed compassion where I had only seen annoyance and irritation, before. His steely gaze returned as he waited for an answer.
“Yes, Father. There is no time for pride in this matter. I ask for your help, if you are willing to give it.”
“There is word that Rurik has left the Kingdom. Ryszard is not willing to cause trouble with his people by supporting the kidnapping of your child. Rurik is only a bastard son, after all, not worth the loss of soldiers or respect from the masses. Do you have any idea where he might have taken Rory?”
He said my son’s name. He’d never laid eyes on his grandchild, yet he said his name as if he cared about him.
“Rurik spoke of a place further west, about a fortnight’s journey from here. He talked of mountains by the sea where his mother’s clan lives. He spoke of them harshly as witches and thieves.”
“Humph, goes to figure he would have evil forces in his bloodline.”
His scornful tone was reminiscent of the father I remembered, a tone usually reserved for me, or Mother. Come to think of it, for almost anybody who displeased him, at the moment.
“Mt. Orion, on the Orionus peninsula, is about that distance from here,” said Uzziah, pointing out a spot on the map spread over the table. “That is where Rubeus went for training after he enlisted in Hagan’s army. It is a mountain region that is surrounded on three sides by the sea. This must be where Rory is.”
“Rubeus… Do you think he could help us? I doubt very highly he will be able to come with us, but he could give us detailed directions and the most ideal places where the witches might live,” said Tilliam.
“We will visit him on our journey, he may have contacts near Mt. Orion who might be willing to guide us there,” said Kratos.
Mother spoke up. “The Witches of Orion have long been spoken of as a clan who is crafty and clever. They enjoy playing with their enemies using tactics of torture to drive them insane. They go beyond the normal realm of witchcraft and often summon supernatural beings and powers in their spells. You will be dealing with demons.”
I looked over at my brothers, startled by what they would think of Mother knowing these things. They gave me a wink.
“You were the only one who didn’t know Mother’s secrets, until now, Elektra,” said Uzziah, “you have been away for a very long time.”
“I don’t think too much of using witchcraft and spells, but Necia has saved us more than once from enemies that would try to take away our land or harm us,” said Father.
“Things sure have changed around here,” I replied.
“Get used to it, little sister, you don’t know the half of it,” chuckled Tilliam. “Tomorrow, we talk to Rubeus, and you will find he will have much to offer on the subject, having fought in battle against these kinds of folk. A good chunk of them were wiped out in the Hagan Wars, but pockets of clans who pray to Lucifer still remain on those mountains. Rurik’s mother must still have ties there.”
My mind couldn’t take anymore. I needed sleep. Things were moving fast, and the knowledge of my Mother practicing white witchery, the changes I saw in Kratos, and the years that had passed by overwhelmed me. They would all help me rescue Rory. I grieved for the time I missed out on with my family.
© 2016, Rebecca Braun. All rights reserved.
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