*** TOKE’S POV ***
She looks so fresh. I don’t remember when I last saw her in such a mood and so energetic.
- You don’t think I will miss tonight, Toke.
I see Estrid’s eyes flashing. She looks as surprised as I am. My eyes return on my mother.
- Are you coming with us?!
- No, it’s you coming with me!
She says cheerfully and giggles gathering her things. I don’t recognise my mother. Oh right, last time I saw her like this on the first night I met her in the garden. Next night she already felt so distant. She always gave her hand when we needed it, she always hugged us in sadness and moments of disappointment, she encouraged and teached, she spent time with us, but looked like some kind of spirit just soaked up her joyfulness. Now she is back.
- Estrid, my dare, believe me, hunting won’t be comfortable in that dress.
I look at my sister. Mother clearly teases her. Estrid stares at our mother agape. It makes me laugh a little. She sees this side of Rhia for the first time in years. I told her, but she never believed me. I toss a pillow at her. It crashes at her chest, but for sure she catches it without much effort.
- Toke, you are getting under my skin!
I feel a pillow landing right into my face. Irritated I make a long cut in it with my sharp nail and toss it back at my sister. To my surprise I am hit at the same time with one more soft square.
They both giggle in unison. I toss the pillow back and we all are quickly covered in flying feathers. They run, Estrid squeaks as I try to catch both of them. I need a better strategy. Looks like both of them understand each other without words. Is it a family thing? Estrid twirls around her axis, all happy and laughing making feathers fly even higher, not letting them land. I join her taking her palms in mine and we spin together. I invite mother to join us with a motion of a hand. I never imagined our days like that. So much fun!
I react to my sister’s concerned whisper.
- Mother, what is it?
Tears roll down her pink cheeks. I have never seen her so vulnerable. I hug her shoulders. Estrid cups mother’s face and brushes off the tears.
- Don’t mind. It’s just glimpses of my past.
I share with Estrid one more concerned look. Some strange feeling sucks up all air out of my lungs.
- Will you tell us?
I feel hesitation in my sister’s voice, but the question is already out. Rhia fells silent. Of course, she won’t share it with us. They ALL keep those secrets. The anger builds in my stomach.
- It reminds me of the last day with your grandfather.
We look at her with big round eyes. I’m sure, mine look the same as my sisters now. Tonight is without doubts unusual. And something in my gut implies to me it’s just the start.
- He was hurt in the battle and brought up back to me. He.. he melted in ashes flying like those feathers now around us.
She holds out a hand and feathers sit on her palm quietly. I swallow the lump.
- We die so easily?
She shakes her head slightly. There is more under this story. I tug her closer to my chest. Just now I notice her shaking.
- Mother, let’s look at it that grandpa just was visiting us and we all together enjoyed our meeting.
I look angrily at Estrid’s insane proposal. She has to know when to stop.
- My dare, you are just as your father.
Rhia’s lips curl in a small smile! That is odd. She gathers a palm full of feathers and blows them up over our heads. They land on us and Rhia’s gaze follows them. Tears roll slowly down her cheeks calmly.
- He will come.
She whispers dreamily. Certainty in her voice confuses me.
- Your father.
What’s the connection between my grandfather and a father? My mind races grasping for possible reasons.
- Are you ready?
Andvari stands rooted next to the opened door, clearly trying to understand what’s going on.
- Mother goes with us!
Rhia jumps on her feet and her cheerfulness comes back. Andvari looks stunned. His eyes look at me with a question. I shrug my shoulders.
- I won’t miss this hunting! Be ready in ten!
She leaves us in a rush. And to be true, she joins us just before we leave the castle.
- Let’s spread out and have fun! Tonight we will celebrate!
I and Estrid echo each other. Rhia just laughs.
- You are not silly, 31 Oktober, remember? We are having a party!
Estrea leaps on her neck and plants a kiss. I shake my head with a bright smile on my lips. Actually I am happy as she is, my heart is flying like a bird in a wide sky. Do our lifes to get better? My thoughts are interrupted by screams. Hunting has started. We spread out. I have Andvari, having my back. On such a night no one is completely safe. As on a purpose two arrows whistle next to my ear. I dodge to the side to make sure they won’t reach my neck. Andvari catches one with his palm. We examine it. It’s ready for our prey.
- Let’s side this trajectory.
Andvari nods and we take a side way between younger trees. Wind brings a luring smell and my fangs prolong. Warm, still running in veins. Red and thick. Andvari has found his prey. My muscles clench as I prepare myself for the pivotal move. I notice a movement on my side as I launch on my prey. Nails dig deep in the flesh and fangs follow. I share my prey with the intruder. We caught it together and rolled in a furry ball, coloring red the carpet of a green moos. What a waist! We suck deep and intense none of us letting go. His eyes are deep black and red liquide rolls down his pale skin. He drags out his fangs tearing the unliveless flesh out. His tongue licks treasuring the last red drops.
- Looks like we have the same taste.
- I don’t believe that. Life taught me the lesson I won’t forget.
I roll my eyes at his words. Looks like he is older than I expected.
- Sorgedon. How do I call you?
I catch an arrow, so saving his throat.
He kicks hard at my feet by the side. I fell down next to the large stone. His body lands almost on me.
I look at him and we both share a giggle as cloud of arrows fly by over our heads in all directions.
- Spirits! They are crazy!
- That’s all about this night!
Sorgedon laughs. Only stone is sheltering us.
- That was an impressive catch, Toke.
- Looks like we now are even.
One arrow hits him hard into the chest. He struggles to take it out. I pull it but the tip breaks and hides inside his chest. His eyes widen.
- This one is meant to kill us.
I tear off his shirt and with the fabric cover my fingers. I work delikate trying to fish the arrow’s tip. Cold metal burns my skin. He hisses.
- Hold on lion.
- My father used to call me this.
Painful smile curves his lips. I cut off a piece of my leather jacket, cover my fingers and enter his chest. He cries out as my fingers tear his healing skin and spread out insides.
- I learned from my mother.
- Toke! leave it be!
Sorgedon’s fist pushes me hard. He lets out bubbling sounds from his throat.
- We never surrender.
I pin him to the ground and shove a branch in between his teeth.
- It’s over.
I shove a silver tip aside and sit leaning against the stone. Sweat rolls my skin.
- I will always have your back, Toke.
He punches my side with the fist playfully.
- I throw a party tonight. Come to celebrate your life.
- You don’t have to ask me twice!
Continue reading chapter 22