The Silver Siren (Page 33)

Narn began to wail loudly. “No you can’t leave me. I don’t know how to survive out here. There could be bears, wolves, or monsters out in these woods.”

Enough. I’d just decided to spare his life and now he was whining. “I’m the monster you need to worry about,” I growled.

He shut up and began to sniffle and cry.

We decided to tie him up until we were ready to pull out. But where to now? We needed more men, more protection. We were vulnerable to attack. I looked to Hemi and he nodded his head at me. He knew what I was thinking.

“We keep heading north. To the Valdyrstal lands,” I announced. “Right now, out in the open, we are under constant threat of attack. We need to get help, regroup. We are closer to Valdyrstal than Haven, so I say let’s go forward.”

The few soldiers that were left became silent. I looked over the students, and even Syrani had a bemused expression. Hemi stepped in and began ordering them to transfer only their absolute necessities into the first three wagons. We would leave the rest.

I only prayed that my father would understand and forgive me as I led a ragtag bunch of Denai, his sworn enemy, right into his home.

Chapter 18

Understand was a stretch. Not only did my father not understand our arrival, Bearen was livid.

At first he was delighted to see his daughter and his good friend Hemi return. His face dropped into a scowl when the first wagon crested and he saw Karni on the seat next to the driver. His face turned from red to purple when more of the Denai students crested the hill behind us, escorted by soldiers.

Fearful for my friends, Hemi and I rode out ahead to greet my father. “Father, we need help!”

“Turn around, because you will find none here,” Bearen threatened, pointing the direction we had just come from.

“We can’t. We were attacked; we lost most of our men and many of the students. They were taken, like I was before,” I whispered the last sentence so only he could hear it.

“Where’s the SwordBrother?” he asked, searching for Kael. “He swore on his life that you would be taken care of.”

“He made sure I was safe before he went after them. Father, the Adept Council and all of Calandry are in a dilemma. We don’t know where to go. People have even started disappearing from the city, the Citadel, the roads. Nowhere is truly safe anymore. The Septori always seem to be one step ahead of the Queen and adepts. This was the safest place I could think of.”

Bearen rubbed his long black beard thoughtfully as he listened to my words. Odin had come and stood by to listen in, along with Eviir and quite a few others. The three wagons continued straight into the middle of town, and the five remaining students began to hop down and gaze in awe at the unique architecture of our longhouses. Some started to shiver. I supposed it was because we were high up in the mountains and it was cooler than most were used to.

Women came out of the houses carrying extra coats and blankets. Their own children followed closely behind and were drawn to the beautiful Denai. Looking at those left, I realized sadly that only the youngest were spared. The Septori had taken all the older ones but Syrani. Whatever their plan was, they didn’t need the young children anymore.

“Of course it’s the safest place. We are the best warriors, but I don’t think it would be good—” Bearen started to speak again.

“This problem is bigger than our distrust of the Denai. The safety of these children is now our responsibility. Help us get them home safely. That’s all I ask.”

Odin, one of the older warriors and my godfather stepped forward. “No one would blame you, Bearen, for taking in children. Even we can make an exception. And as you know, times are quickly changing. The borders are no longer closed.”

My ears perked up and I gave Odin a questioning look. He waved at me, signaling that we would talk later. After a moment of consideration, Bearen stepped forth and began directing families to volunteer and house the Denai students. Hemi and I had expected a fuss among the clan members about the taint of the heathen Denai. We thought we would have to force them to shelter them. But without my Uncle Rayneld there, no one started trouble. Apparently his hatred had died with him.

“Where’s Siobhan?” I asked, craning my head to see her among the crowd. I was hoping to check in on her, to see how she was holding up.

“She’s gone,” Odin answered without any emotion. “She couldn’t handle the accusations that kept floating around about her involvement in the fire. She went to live with her aunt in the mountains. I don’t blame her. No one trusted her anymore.”

We continued to oversee the delegating of children to host families. My clan members surprised me when quite a few stepped forward and gladly offered up their homes, food, and shelter in the main barns for even the soldiers that were left. The few remaining servants immediately went to work at the cookhouse, helping with the main meal for the village.

Bearen stood looking around, his eyes furrowed over his hawk-like nose in apparent disappointment. “I really thought it would be more of an issue.”

I watched as young Karni attached herself to Eviir and grasped his hand, refusing to let him go. Eviir’s wife was laughing and talking animatedly to the younger girl. I had forgotten that Eviir and Lina couldn’t have children.

Hosting a young Denai child might lead them into a few surprises, Faraway chimed in, chuckling.

“I’m surprised there wasn’t more of a discussion either,” I agreed. But I remained hopeful.

“Maybe it was I who had problems accepting change. The clan is much more willing,” Bearen remarked.

“But these are children,” Odin spoke up. “The older one, that girl. I noticed that no one has come forward to offer her a place to stay.” He gestured toward Syrani.

Syrani stood off to the side, for once looking completely out of her element. Maybe it was because the men in my clan were giants. Or it could have been because Fenri was close by. She probably recognized him by the fox fur he wore, and realized he was the one who knocked her in the mud that fateful day at the Citadel when my father had come to retrieve me.

Maybe you should offer your home, before Fenri sees her and knocks her in the mud again, Faraway said.

I guess you’re right.

Course I’m right. I’m always right, he said.

And you’re always hungry. So it usually comes down to whether you’re thinking with your head or your stomach. You’re just not saying we should shelter Syrani, so I can get you back to the barn for feed are you?

No…Maybe...Now I’m hungry.


I was about to approach Syrani, but Fenri saw her first.

Syrani’s eyes went wide and her face paled when Fenri came forth out of the crowd to stand in front of her. She took two steps back in fright, and her hand flew up in an attempt to keep him at a distance. He spoke softly, and I watched as her hand dropped, her face flushing pink. She looked around desperately, as if waiting for another offer from someone else—anyone else. When none came forward, I expected her to balk and lash out at Fenri with her viperous tongue. Instead, her shoulders slumped and she nodded her head, following him with her small bag of belongings.

She would be in for a bit of surprise when she met Fenri’s mother, Gentri, who was just as demanding as Syrani was. Gentri would keep her in line and may even teach her a thing or two about homemaking. Of course, I was also aware that if she couldn’t curb her spoiled ways, Syrani could very well be running for the hills by the end of the night.