A/N Well hello there. It has been a very very long time since I updated this story. I really didn't think I ever would. I had a death in my family, you see, and lost my will to live, let alone write, for a good long time. I honestly didn't think I would ever write again, it seemed my muse had died as well. Then a couple of days ago i sat down and read through the story again, and thought what a shame it would be if it was never finished. So, without making any promises, I have set out to finish it. If any of you are still paying attention to this after so long a time, I applaud both your patience and dedication, and am humbled by it. I would like to thank everyone who has left me reviews during my hiatus, they were all read and deeply appreciated. I appologize in advance for both the brevity of this chapter and any errors I might have missed. Please bear with me as I'm having to learn this process all over.
Disclaimer: You'd think after all this time I would own it by now. Alas, I do not.
Sarah paced the marble floor, absently chewing at her thumbnail, with worry etched across her face. She stopped occasionally to gaze upon her children, not daring to speak and interrupt their concentration. Taliesin's shade stood nearby, still and silent, but she new he was communing with her son. Ryan seemed to be in less pain, but whether that was because Taliesin's instructions were helping, or because Jasmine was merely taking it all into her self Sarah didn't know.
In addition to worrying about her children, she was keenly aware that Goewin had been gone far longer than necessary to retrieve her parents from above. She worried that something had happened to them, that they had run into trouble, and yes, even that her trust in him at been misplaced. She barely realized she was pacing again when she heard her daughter moan softly. Looking up she saw Jasmine had removed her hands from Ryan's temples and now leaned against a pillar with her knees drawn up to her chest, cradling her head in her hands.
A quick glance at Ryan showed his face even more peaceful than before, and with relief she realized Taliesin's blocking technique must be working, and Jasmine's assistance was no longer needed. She turned her attention to her daughter, kneeling at her side and placing a protective embrace around her.
"Are you okay, baby?" she asked fervently, "are you hurt?" Jasmine looked up and gave her mother a wan smile. Her face was drawn and pale and dark circles ringed her eyes. "I'm okay." she said weakly. "Just tired." Suddenly her eyes widened and she looked about in a panic. Where's Ryan?" she demanded, "Is he okay."
Sarah calmed her daughter, stroking her ebony locks with practiced fingers. "He's fine, darling, Ryan is just fine thanks to you." She felt a swell of pride for her daughter. "You saved his life you know."
Jasmine yawned, relaxing against her mothers shoulder. "Ye, I did." she said sleepily. Sarah chuckled and looked over at her son. He too looked tired, but with each passing moment, he looked more refreshed and rejuvenated. "Come on." she said finally, rising to her feet and hauling her daughter up with her. "Ryan's in good hands, lets get you to bed."
Jasmine put up no resistance as her mother led her towards the center of the room. Sarah plucked a crystal from the air, preparing to transport them both to Jasmine's bedroom when the crackle of magic filled the air.
Jasmine perked up considerably. "Goewin!" she breathed. She could hardly believe she had all but forgotten about his trip above ground. Sarah hadn't missed the tone in her daughter's voice, and silently prayed that when the dark fae arrived she would be too tired to be stubborn. The smile that touched her lips was frozen by a sudden feeling of foreboding that washed over her like a sickening wave. Something was wrong, very wrong, and somehow she could feel it.
As the charge in the air became more pronounced, three figures materialized in front of them. Jasmine, her weakness forgotten, ran towards the figures that appeared through the ether, Sarah right behind her. The looks on her grandparents faces were almost comical, but she took pity on them, remembering the first time she had teleported. Goewin, too, looked the worse for ware, his pale face somehow almost luminescent.
Judging by the grip Goewin had on Robert, the Baaleron women surmised correctly that he had not come to the underground willingly. As they fully materialized, Goewin loosened his grip on Robert and Karen, causing them to stumble forward awkwardly. Robert immediately began flustering, but was silenced by his daughter's embrace.
Sarah gathered her parents to her and began looking them both over. "Is everything okay?" she asked. Robert tried again to complain about his ill treatment, but was cut off once more, this time by his wife. "We're fine, dear, thanks to you." she told her step daughter. "you sent your friend just in the nick of time." Robert begrudgingly nodded his head in agreement. "Though I'm not so sure all the decapitation was strictly necessary." he added. Sarah raised an inquisitive eyebrow and glanced up at Goewin, noticing now the paleness that her daughter had seen. Again the feeling of foreboding washed over her as she watched the tall champion stand silently and stoically, his back against the wall.
Jasmine had begun helping to steady her grandparents, who still looked a bit woozy. She helped her grandmother to a chair, looking down at her hands in shock when she saw traces of blood. Immediately she looked back at her grandmother. "Grandma, your blouse is covered in blood!" she gasped, beginning to look her grandmother over for injuries once again, but Karen brushed her off.
"Its not mine, its not mine." Karen said absently. Then as if the fog in her mind had suddenly cleared she grasped Jasmine's hands. "Your friend." she she said. "He was hurt. I think he might have been shot."
Jasmine spun around, looking at the man she loved. Again she took note of how pale he was , but this time the feeling of foreboding that had taken over Sarah began to snake its way up her spine as well. Goewin was still standing, gazing blankly at nothing in particular, but as if feeling Jasmine's eyes upon him he slowly turned his head to look at her.
When their eyes met a cold chill touched Jasmine, raising the hairs on the nape of her neck and making her blood run cold. She was seized with an unnameable and unbearable fear. "Goewin?" she asked tentatively, the same fear coloring her voice. He managed a weak smile before sliding down the wall to his knees, leaving a smear of dark blood to clash against the alabaster walls.
The sight of the blood stirred the Princess and her mother into action, and they were instantly at his side. "What happened?" Sarah asked her parents, her eyes never leaving her young champion. He was sweating now, and his breathing was ragged and labored. Karen hurried to join them at his side. "He saved us from looters, they were going to kill us." she said, her memory of the events finally returning. "But one of them took a couple of shots, and I think he was hit."
Jasmine heard her grandmother's words but barely registered them. The icy fear that gripped her had found its way to her heart, and her breathing became almost as ragged as Goewin's. She reached out to touch him, the fear making her hesitate, when she finally did she was stunned at how cold he was. "Goewin, baby please talk to me." she cried, her hands fumbling with the buttons of his waistcoat. She almost missed the smile that touched his pale lips when she called him "baby."
He reached a trembling hand toward her and stilled her arm, and with his other hand he cupped her small face. "My princess," he said, his voice barely more than a whisper. "I would have loved you through eternity." With this his hands fell to to his sides and his eyes closed.
"No!" Jasmine shouted, shaking him by the shoulders. "Don't you talk like that, dammit! Don't you dare!" She shook with anger, frustration, and guilt. Tears spilled down her shimmering cheeks and her mismatched eyes flashed in desperation.
Sarah had taken over where Jasmine had left off, unfastening the many layers of dark clothing looking for the source of the blood. When finally she had his chest exposed her own blood drained from her face. Two gaping bullet wounds glared angrily from the left side of his body, and with every ragged breath the young man took more blood gushed forth. For just a second, her mind went numb, frozen by a feeling of futility. "Gods." she whispered, holding back a sob.
Then, as quickly as the paralyzing numbness came it left, and her tear filled eyes flashed to silver. Branwen had more experience with battle wounds, and she took over. "Jasmine," she said sharply, snapping the girl out of her own numbness. "Can you do anything for him?" The Princess looked up at her mother with tear filled eyes and shook her head. "I'm trying" she cried desperately. "There's nothing left. There's nothing ." She began to sob, but Sarah paid her no mind.
"Dad, give me your shirt!" she shouted, and her father for once obeyed without question. He too felt helpless and desperate. She balled the garment up and pressed it against the gushing wound, attempting to stem the flow of blood. A pool of the thick gore had begun to form around them, and she feared the situation had already gotten out of hand. She took Jasmines trembling hands and placed them against the makeshift bandage. "Hold tight here." She commanded, and Jasmine obeyed, her body racked with helpless sobs.
Sarah felt pity for her daughter, but there was no time for comfort. "Beloch!" she demanded, "Bring the healers, and hurry. You others, get as many blankets as you can carry, and boil some water. Immediately there was a scurry of activity, as goblins of all shapes and sizes ran into each other to fulfill the High Queen's decree.
Goewin's breathing had become even more labored, and Sarah feared the healers wouldn't arrive in time. The bandage was doing little to stem the blood flow, as it seeped through and pooled between Jasmine's trembling finger. She looked up at her mother with shimmering mismatched eyes, looking for all the world like a little child. "He's dying, Mama." she cried.
Her edicts issued, Sarah now bent to comfort her daughter. " It's okay, baby." she said, in the most motherly voice she could muster. "the healers will be here soon, they'll know what to do." She closed her eyes and prayed that that was true.
As if on cue, the healers arrived, followed by a bevy of goblins carting blankets, pots of steaming water, and satchels presumably belonging to the two fae women. They quickly spread some blankets on the floor, and with Robert's help they managed to lay the large Fomorian down. They quickly removed the rest of his clothing, pulling up yet another blanket so that his modesty was preserved.
This task completed, the two healers knelt beside him, setting to work assessing his wounds. They both tsk'd at the damage, but said nothing else regarding his condition. They worked wordlessly, seeming to know what the other was thinking. Sarah for the first time felt a sense of relief, believing that perhaps there was hope after all. Once again she began her worried pacing, helplessly watching as yet another precious life hung in the balance. Jasmine knelt dutifully at Goewin's side, holding his nearly lifeless hand to her breast and absently brushing back the dark hair from his deathly pale face, all the while ignoring the tears that streamed unabated down her cheeks and onto his icy flesh.
Robert and Karen stood back, all but forgotten, and watched in horror at the events unfolding before them. They still had no idea who this young man was, but it was clear he was beloved by Sarah and Jasmine, and he had risked his life to rescue them. They barely knew his name, but they both prayed silently to whatever gods might be listening that the stranger would not die for them as well.
And in the corner of the room, forgotten and unnoticed, The Goblin King and his spectral adviser remained oblivious to the drama that surrounded them, caught up as they were in a small drama of their own.