As they got ready to go after her, Moira had already gone quite far from the Sanctuary. She'd been riding hard and fast, trying to put as much distance between her and the others as she could. She was running and she wasn't looking back. Just then, she heard someone behind her.
"Well, well. If it isn't Moira, the runaway slave fetcher."
She knew that voice – all too well. Th horse nearly bucked her off but Moira maintained control and turned her horse to see Longinus, the one person on Earth she was terrified of. This wasn't supposed to happen. Not this way. She had no where to turn, no where to run now. As they looked at each other, Conor and the others rode up.
Longinus immediately turned towards the others. "And here's the one we sent you to fetch," he stated, his tone was even and matter-of-fact. His face darkened as he looked over the group Marika rode with.
"They're free now," Conor spat. Contempt was dripping from his voice. If he could have, he would have struck Longinus down where he stood. "Leave them alone."
"Well, prince, Queen Diana doesn't see it that way," replied Longinus. He waved his hand a little as if to say that he didn't get it either. "She wants the slave and the fetcher back in her possession. That's why I'm here, you see. I was sent to take them back."
"Precious life," Marika whispered to herself. It had just suddenly popped into her head but she knew it was right. "That's it! That's the phrase. Precious life."
Keara carefully dismounted. Catlin, Tully and Conor followed suit, moving to stand with Keara now. Marika and Fergus rode over to Moira's side.
"You've already done too much to hurt so many," stated Keara as she walked towards Longinus. "Let them go. They mean no harm."
Longinus harshly chuckled. "People respect me, child. Those two come with me. We wouldn't want to disappoint Queen Diana, would we?"
Catlin scowled. "You mistake fear for respect," she retorted. "They're free now. Let them go."
"I thought you didn't trust them," Tully whispered to Catlin.
"They don't deserve to be slaves," Catlin replied in a whisper, "even if I don't trust them."
Longinus looked over the rag-tag lot of them and frowned. He didn't care one way or the other about it. "So be it," he sighed, waving them off and leaving.
Fergus, Moira and Marika dismounted now as well and walked towards the others. Each seemed surprised by Longinus's decision.
"I have a confession to make," Moira began.
"I remember it now, Tully," Marika stated, interrupting Moira.
"What was it?" Tully anxiously requested.
"Precious life," replied Marika. "Da would say it all the time. I drove everyone crazy when I'd march around the house saying it repeatedly."
Tully reached out and hugged her tightly. "You are my little sister!"
"How?" Moira asked, bewildered. "I never thought she was telling the truth. I - I don't understand."
"I knew I had a brother. So did you. I told you several times," replied Marika. "At first I lied and hoped it would work. Then I started to remember little things. I just never told you. I'm sorry, Moira."
Moira sighed in relief. "I still have a confession to make," she announced. It was time to come clean to Conor and his friends. "Marika ran away after being falsely accused of planning to run away. I went to check on her the next day but she was gone. Queen Diana sent me to fetch her but I refused to return once I found her and the Sanctuary. When I thought we would finally be caught in our lie, I ran. It hurt so badly but I felt I had to. I'm so sorry."
"It feels good to finally tell us the truth," Catlin said, "doesn't it?"
Moira nodded. "We'll get our things and ..."
"And what?" Conor replied. "You were given a home by me. Now that everything is cleared up, you can stay with a clear conscience."
Moira and Marika looked at each other smiled brightly. Everyone but Moira and Tully mounted their horses, ready to head back home again.
Moira started for her horse but Tully grabbed her hand and spun her around. "I'm glad that you're staying," he said. "It gives me more time to get to know you better." Tully brushed some of Moira's hair from her face.
Moira stepped towards him and kissed Tully, soft and slow but quickly. Just enough to leave him stunned. "I'm glad as well," she replied. Then she backed off and mounted her horse. "Let's go," Moira called. "The others already left for home."
Tully stood there for a moment, surprised by the kiss but utterly happy as well. He smiled and mounted his horse as well. "Race you back," he said, immediately spurring his horse forward.
"No fair," Moira called. "You got a head start!"