Chapter Five

"Geric! NO!" Isi shook her husband, desperately trying to make him open his eyes. Her breath came in shallow gasps that sounded like ripping paper. Enna closed her eyes and tried to sense Geric's heat. The heat clung to him like a thin fog, hardly perceptible, but present. Enna put her hand on Isi's shoulder.

"He's alive," she said. "But if we don't get him back, that could change." When Isi didn't move, Razo and Enna hoisted Geric up and draped him over Isi's horse. Suddenly she stood up, her face hard and furious.

"That's enough," she said in a low voice. "This has to stop. Now."

They kicked their horses into a gallop. Enna was going over every place Sileph could be. A horrible thought hit her with the force of a hammer. "Finn!" she gasped. "Isi, he's gone back to kill Finn!"

Understanding dawned on the Queen's face. "That makes sense," she said. "With Finn out of the way, you have little protection. He thinks he could take you away to Ingridan."

The gravity of the situation came down on them all. Enna's skin iced over in panic. Finn could not die. He was her tie to sanity, the only person who could quell the nightmares.

It took them half as much time to get back to the castle as it had to get to the woods. Isi ordered the stableboys to take care of the horses. Isi and Razo took Geric to the physician. Enna raced up the stairs to Finn's room.

Sileph stood by the window, holding a dagger to Finn's throat. Enna drew herself up to her full height and scowled. "Put him down. Now," she commanded. "This is between me and you. Leave Finn out of it."

Sileph shook his head. "I can't do that, Enna," he said in a sad voice. "He is my insurance. Come with me, Enna. Come with me, and I will let Finn live. You might get a stint in a Tiran prison, but if you agree to teach me fire-speaking, I'm sure you'll get out after a few years. Think about it, Enna. How much do you love Finn?"

Enna's hands shook. Sileph's words cast a fog over her mind. She almost nodded, agreed to go with him. Pull youself together, you stupid girl, she thought. She was a fire-speaker, a wind-speaker. She was more powerful than Sileph on her weakest day. "Enna. Come with me. If you don't, I will drive my knife into his heart."

"Don't!" Finn exclaimed. Enna, don't listen to him. He's lying. If you go with him they'll kill you as soon as you step onto Tiran ground."

"Shut up," Sileph snarled, his eyes bulging. Panic crossed his features. "That's enough," he said. "If threatening his life won't make you listen, perhaps a different tactic would work."

He tossed Finn to the side and lunged at Enna. It was too small a space for her to burn, and he knew it. He hit her across the face with the hilt of his dagger. Temporarily disoriented, she couldn't stop him as he tied her wrists and ankles. He raised her wrists and looped them around the doorknob. He strode over to Finn.

"Don't you dare touch him!" Enna growled. Sileph turned to her with a sorrowful expression on his face.

"I didn't want to have to do this," he said mournfully, "but you leave me no choice."

Without further ado he planted the steel toe of his boot into Finn's side- right on his healing wound. Sileph kicked him in the chest and face, then hauled him up. One hand held Finn by the throat against the wall. The other curled into a fist and pummeled Finn in the stomach. Sileph shoved him into the wall. Finn's head hit the wood with a sickening smack and he crumpled unconcious to the ground.

Enna closed her eyes and tried to think of what to do. If she burned Sileph, Finn would likely catch fire too. She had to do something fast. Sileph approached Finn again.

"Alright! I'll come!" Enna's lips formed the words without consulting her mind. All she knew was that she couldn't watch Sileph beat Finn to death. Not without trying to stop it somehow.

Sileph stopped. "Really?" he asked gleefully. Enna nodded. Sileph kicked Finn's body once more in the ribs. He crouched before Enna. "I'm glad. It's a shame I'll have to kill your lover anyway," he said. He nodded at the look on Enna's face. "Of course I have to, Enna! If I don't, he'll follow us. He's a persistent one, I'll give you that. But I can't have him wandering around with half-formed rescue plans."

Now, Enna thought. She pulled heat into her chest. She sent it directly into Sileph. He yelled and his skin began to blister. Enna closed her eyes and burned the ropes off her wrists and ankles. "I thought you were immortal, Sileph," she said coolly. His eyes grew wide, caught in the lie. Enna shook her head in disgust. He was not immortal. He had simply said it to pique her interest. She crawled over to Finn, trying not to look at the human torch that was Sileph.

Finn's face was swollen and bloody. His stab wound had opened and was bleeding again. "Finn," she whispered. She shook his shoulder. "Finn. Please. Wake up," she begged. He stirred slightly. His eyes opened-or rather, his right eye did. His left eye stayed shut. His eye traveled from her face to the glow of the burning man behind her. He pushed himself up and sat against the wall. He held his arms out, and Enna's face crumpled. He pulled her close and kissed the crown of her head. Enna wrapped her arms around his waist. She buried her face in his chest and cried.

"It's alright," he whispered in her ear. "He's gone. The fire is out."

"I'm so sorry," she said.

"Don't be. It's not your fault. And I'm fine. Really," he said. A trickle of blood rolled down his chin from a split lip. Enna snorted, or at least she tried to. It came out as more of a strangled, choking noise.

"Let's get you back down to the physician," she said. Finn kissed the side of her head. His thumb brushed away a tear on her face. She stood up and grabbed his hand. He groaned as he stood up. "Does something hurt?" Enna asked anxiously. Finn grimaced.

"I'm sick of sitting down," he said grumpily. Enna laughed a little breathlessly and tugged on his hand. He stood up and put his arm around her, partly because of love and partly because he felt like he was about to topple over. She put an arm around his waist, and the two of them made their way to the floor below them.

They found Isi sitting in the hall with her face in her hands. Enna gasped. "Isi, don't tell me..." she trailed off, unable to finish the thought. Isi looked up and smiled wanly.

"Geric's fine," she said. "Or at least he will be. Do you want to tell me what happened up there? Is Sileph dead? Why is Finn bleeding?"

Enna refused to tell her anything until Finn was sitting in bed with a surly expression on his face. She related the story to Isi, whose face became steadily angrier. When it was done, Isi leaned back in her chair. "What a tale," she said.

"You should tell it sometime," said Enna. "Except you should probably give it an ending."

Isi smiled in amusement. "I may have to do that. How do you think it should end?"

"Like this," said Finn. He leaned forward and took Enna's face in his hands. And then he kissed her.

Note: Thank you so much to everyone who's hung in there. I started this chapter in the summer. And then some crazy stuff happened, so I never got to upload it. Let's just say that it's a tale full of travels, tornadoes, and very little sleep. Oh! And I also finished the first draft of my own novel. Hooray! So yeah. Just thanks. I hope you guys like it. Please review.