Hello everyone! It has been quite a while hasn't it? It feels like forever since I've even looked at my fanfiction account and that is just such a travesty. I've missed writing here and I intend on finishing the stories I have here, including this one since I did love it. I've got some new ideas for it and am excited for it. I hope people still read it and review. I won't fall behind on my writing but I have to say I've had good reason! I got married and moved to another country so that may explain some things. :D But anyway, yus! I am back and so is this story! Read and review, lemme know if you like.

The amount of tension that pervaded the air around Tris could easily be cut with a knife. Had this been years ago when they first met Briar would have seen sparks of lightening in her red tresses but Tris had long since gotten control of her power. Briar was thankful for that since he had seen first-hand what Coppercurls was capable of when she was really angry, he could still almost feel the bruises he had gotten from that hailstorm she had brought down on everyone when her cousin had been killed.

What a time that had been. Pirates, storms, almost dying in the attack. All that and it still didn't seem as scary as what they were dealing with now. Back then they had had Daja and Sandry with them, back then they had been a team. Now they were a broken circle and he and Tris… He couldn't even begin to figure out what existed between them. He had spent so much time thinking of her as his sister that he hadn't really allowed himself to see her as anything else. But really, she wasn't his sister, he cared about her still but it wasn't the same. Things were different. He was different.

Rubbing the back of his neck, Briar watched Tris carefully as he rode behind her, trying to figure out just how he had upset her. Well that wasn't entirely true, he knew how he had upset her, he had spoken without really thinking it through first. It was just.. the amount of pain he saw in her eyes had stunned him, leaving him breathless for a moment but she hadn't given him time to say much else before she had ridden off. What could he say to make things better? He knew that teasing wouldn't work, not here but what would? Not that he didn't have bigger things to think about because he did, Daja and Sandry were on his mind constantly, the threat of a possible epidemic, and most of all, Keth.

The three had left on horseback for Namorn, intent on getting there as fast as possible. Briar didn't trust Keth, not one bit. How was it that Keth happened to show up before they left and seemed to know exactly what was going on? It didn't make sense and why was he being so secretive about who had sent him in the first place? He was far too secretive for Briar's liking. The fact that he shared something with Tris didn't help matters either. The glances that the older man sent his teacher's way were not at all platonic and raised Briar's hackles. He was too old for Tris and..well…

"Did you hear me?" A sharp voice cut into Briar's jealous thoughts, drawing his gaze from Kethlun to Tris.

"What?" He asked, trying to refocus his mind on the here and now, mostly to avoid getting zapped by a hastily thrown lightning bolt by the redhead.

"I asked if you had the map or not, I want to see if there is a faster way to get where we need to go." Given that it was only the three of them traveling it meant they could move quicker but it also meant less protection should they come across any sort of trouble and given their lack or lack thereof, that was definitely possible.

Blinking a few times, Briar had to think for a minute before nodding and pulling the map out of his satchel. He had almost forgotten he had it. The fact that they had been riding for a good portion of the afternoon meant that he was glad to be stopping, his behind was sore and his legs in need of a stretch as well. Dismounting his caramel-coloured horse, the thief mage led it over and tied it to a tree branch and waited for his companions to do the same before he set the map on the ground. "We can take the path we took last time and it should get us there quickly." Briar didn't really like the thought of detouring and getting lost, time was precious.

Both Tris and Keth looked over the map as well but neither had any objections to Briar's logic. Taking the time to rest, Tris went off on her own with Chime wrapped snuggly around her neck, purring her musical purr as she did. It was obvious she wanted to be left alone though Briar wanted badly to talk to her, to set things straight.

The place they had stopped was rather picturesque, a brook not too far from the road and a hill overlooking it. It was peaceful yet Briar couldn't bring himself to relax, not yet. Not while his sisters were in danger. He hadn't forgotten the damage an epidemic had done before, his friend Flicker and then his teacher Rosethorn. He swore he'd never go through that again…

"Hey… Can I speak with you?" Keth's voice pulled Briar out of that dark place that came with those terrible memories and though Briar didn't trust this man, he was grateful nonetheless. Briar nodded and followed Keth over to his horse, a brow raised at the way the man seemed to make sure that Tris wasn't looking. "I know you don't trust me and I don't really blame you." Briar blinked, well, he was blunt wasn't he?

"It's not th—" Briar started but was cut off. "Yes it is, you don't need to spare my feelings." Kethlun said with a shrug as he rummaged in his bag for something. "What did you want to talk about?" Briar asked bluntly, wanting to avoid any chance of conflict.

Keth didn't answer right away, focused on searching through his bag still. Green eyes darkened in irritation, why was he ignoring him now? Briar opened his mouth to speak but stopped when Keth produced what he had been looking for, a small glass orb. It was pretty but Briar didn't quite un—Wait… Was that Tris in the glass? It was cloudy but he could definitely see Tris' face and it made him sick to see. Her eyes were closed and blood ran down the side of her face. She looked…

"This is why I'm coming along. To prevent this from happening." Keth's voice was lowered, his eyes haunted. "To keep Tris from dying."