He lunged at her with his dagger and stumbled. Belle struck, slicing hard and deep across his face. “For my mother.” She barely whispered. Malick screamed, dropping his dagger. Belle plunged her knife into his belly withdrawing it with an upward motion. Malick stumbled toward her, surprise and disbelief in his eyes. He reached out for her and she drove the big blade into his chest up to the hilt. His forward motion carried him almost on top of her spouting blood and gore.
Marabella opened her eyes. She steadied her breathing to shake off the memory. She hadn’t meant to fall asleep, but it was so comfortable and warm wrapped in Wesley’s strong arms. She moved slowly, sliding from his embrace. His steady breathing told her that the Valerian root sleeping potion she’d used to dose him would keep him dreaming for some time. Padding silently down the stairs, she stepped into Wesley’s boots and crept outside. The darkness was beginning to withdraw as the stars faded. Marabella’s clothes hung on the line. They were nearly dry. Creeping inside, she hung them by the dying fire while she tidied up.
She cleaned the dried blood from the curved needle Wesley had used to stitch her cuts and put all the supplies back into their proper place. Looking at his handiwork, she smiled. The six tiny stitches across her thigh held nicely. Marabella held her hand over the wound. “Sultaroos.” The healing spell worked well on the wounds. She would just have to live with the bruises.
She dressed quickly and went outside again. She saddled the sorrel mare, attaching her pack and saddle bag, then stole back inside once more. Taking paper and quill, Marabella sought to write Wesley a note but the words would not come. She knew he would be hurt and angry when he discovered her gone. The quill hovered over the empty page. Glancing out the window at the ever lightening sky, she scratched a quick note. “He’ll understand.” She told herself. Marabella took Wesley’s shirt that she’d worn and quietly climbed the stairs. He looked so handsome and peaceful sleeping there. She wanted nothing more than to gaze once more into his blue green eyes. But he would never let her go alone. As much as she would love to have him with her, he was needed at home. His mother was unwell, more so than he realized. She touched his cheek and left quickly in the first light of dawn.
The sorrel mare trotted down the muddy road. Marabella inhaled the sweetness of the early morning air. The breeze teased and whipped her long dark hair into a familiar mass of tangles. She sat in the saddle thinking about the all the events that had brought her to this moment.
“My father is alive.” She said aloud. She was a cascade of emotion; happy, sad, and very angry. Happy to be moving in some direction, instead of stuck, without purpose, as she had been for the four long seasons since her mother’s murder. Marabella had spent the last four summers and four winters waiting; waiting to grow up enough, waiting to be stronger, waiting to learn more about her magics and how to use them, waiting to seek justice for Mara, her mother.
She was also waiting for her little brother to grow up some, and he had not disappointed. A faint smile played across her lips as she thought of Natan. She glanced at the copper bracelet he’d made for her, as she adjusted her diminutive frame in the saddle.