The Silver Siren (Page 10)

“It’s not a pleasant story, and it doesn’t have a happy ending,” he whispered under his breath.

“What story does? But I’m sure it has a great hero in it, and daring escapes and a damsel in distress,” I teased referring to myself.

“Aye, that’s true. You always did cause me lots of distress,” he spoke slowly. “I had chosen Gwen to be my bondmate, and she agreed. We were happy—at least I thought were. We had set a date, and the closer it came to our union date, the more distant she became. I had no clue that her feelings were changing. Until I found them one evening, hiding in the shadows wrapped in a heated embrace. I was furious. I wanted to kill the man she was with. In anger and without thinking, I challenged him to a battle of honor, to the death. He stepped out of the shadows and I was confronted with my older brother Alek.”

“No!” I gasped out. “What did you do?”

“Gwen came to me and begged me to leave. She was sorry, but she didn’t want either one of us to die. If I didn’t leave our clan, I would be bound to fight to the death, and I told you, I always lost to my brother. So instead of staying and facing my death with honor, I left in the night. I shamed my clan, I shamed my family, and the choices I made stripped me of my title. When you first asked me all those months ago if I was someone important, I told you the truth. I was no one. It’s why I took the job training the Denai at the school.”

“Where did you go when you left?”

“I wandered for weeks, trying to find my honor again.”

“Kael, you can’t be serious.” I said in disbelief.

“Because the Valley of Swords was no longer my home. I couldn’t go back, because I was disgraced. I became a sword for hire—only the first job I took, I ended up drugged and in an underground facility. And you know the rest.”

“So why are we going back now?”

“Because I need to explain what has happened between you and me—the bond—to my clan. The clan members must be warned against others being blood-bonded against their will.

“What do you think is coming, Kael? What do you know that I don’t?”

“That the time is coming for the SwordBrothers to come out of hiding.”

Chapter 8

We were in a canyon or what felt like one. Steep cliffs rose high on either side of us and different veins would break off. He took the first fork right, the third left fork, a second right. There was no way to tell where we were going, and I doubt I could get out again without his help. The walls were so close that I could reach out and touch them on either side, but I was proud of my restraint.

“Thalia,” Kael spoke softly into my ear, “I know that you are smart enough to know where we are, and you’ve probably now know enough to make it back, but please, for once in your life, play dumb.”

“I have no idea what you are talking about. And why should I play dumb Kael, what is the big idea—” Something shot into the ground in front of Faraway, startling him and making him rear up in fright. There was too much weight with both of us riding double. I felt Kael slide off Faraway’s back. Kael hit the ground hard, and I landed on him. In Faraway’s panic, I lost the connection with his mind. Now I was blind and terrified. I heard my horse’s scream and froze.

I blinked and tried to make out what was happening, but I was still dazed from our severed sight connection. I crawled forward off of Kael. Another large shadow covered the small canyon and Kael shouted, “Watch out!”

I lifted the blindfold off of my eyes in time to see Faraway’s large body on his rear quarters start to fall over backward toward me.

Strong hands gripped me under my arms and yanked. The back of my legs scraped against the gravel and I cried out as Faraway fell onto the ground where I’d been lying only seconds ago. He twisted, turned, and tried to get his feet under him. I could see the terror in his eyes, but the canyon was impossibly narrow and perfect for an ambush. Someone came up behind us and pressed a knife to Kael’s throat. A similar brush of cold steel touched my neck.

I froze.

“Whose sword do you die for?” a raspy voice called out.

I turned to look at the man clothed in black. His pants, shirt, and boots were black. His face was covered by a black mask as well. I could see a bandolier of weapons, but even the silver of the weapons were painted a matte black to keep them from glinting in the sun. Four more silhouettes of black stood behind him. I turned my head and followed the knife at my throat up the arm to my own attacker.

He was smaller than the others by a good ten inches, and I stared up at the mask. Like the other man, this person’s face was wrapped with black except for the eyes. Oh. I was surprised at how much hate radiated out of those very feminine brown eyes. My captor was female.

Kael’s strong voice answered the question without wavering. “My own.”

“Whose land do you die for?” A second question came forth from the same man.

“The land of the free.”

“Welcome home, brother.” The man stepped back from Kael and withdrew his knife.

“Alek?” Kael said.

It took a few seconds for the woman who held the knife at my throat to back away, and I couldn’t help but feel her gaze on me long after I stood up. Her knife disappeared into the folds of her clothes and her hands gripped my forearm painfully. I knew better than to fight until Kael had given me an all-clear signal.

I glanced over to Faraway and studied his legs and muscles for injuries. He limped a little and had a few cuts and scrapes but he appeared fine otherwise.

It takes more than a fall to take me down, he said. I’ll be fine.

Kael and the man spoke quietly with each other. I could see the stranger cast furtive glances over at me and shake his head furiously. Kael’s voice didn’t raise but I could see how angry he was. His body stiffened, his face deadpanned, and he barely moved.

What’s going on? You’re closer to them.

They’re arguing over you.


Yes, it is against clan laws for outsiders to come to the sanctuary. Ever. The one that Kael is talking to seems to be his brother.

The woman holding my arm called out to them in a foreign tongue. An ancient tongue. I could only recognize a few words.

Oh. It was beginning to make sense—all of the precautions, why Kael didn’t want to tell me where we were going.

What Kael did is punishable by death. Faraway answered back.

No. They wouldn’t kill their own member.

Thalia, it’s not Kael’s life they are arguing over. It’s yours.

Chapter 9

Everything became crisp, clear, finite—the sounds of SwordBrothers closing in around me, knives being unsheathed and raised. Words heatedly passed back and forth between Kael and his brother. My captor’s hand pressed into my forearm. Even the sound of my blood rushing loudly within my ears heightened. My world stopped, froze, and all I could do was exhale. I concentrated on breathing and watching as my fate unfolded before me.

Kael’s brother took off his hood and they stood face to face. He was a taller, more angular version of Kael. His features were more prominent. Whereas Kael’s hair was dark and long to his ears, his brother’s was lighter in color and cropped shorter. I couldn’t see the shade of his eyes, and I briefly wondered if they turned colors the way Kael’s did when he was angry.