Read The Falcon in the Barn (Book 4 Forest at the Edge series) Online

Authors: Trish Mercer

Tags: #family saga, #christian fantasy, #ya fantasy, #christian adventure, #family adventure, #ya christian, #lds fantasy, #action adventure family, #fantasy christian ya family, #lds ya fantasy

The Falcon in the Barn (Book 4 Forest at the Edge series) (2 page)

BOOK: The Falcon in the Barn (Book 4 Forest at the Edge series)
10.55Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub
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Jaytsy froze, terrified, as her father loomed
over her. A movement by the door caused her to yelp, and Perrin
spun to see what startled her. He aimed the sword at the
figure.

Peto trembled there, horrified.

A voice shouted from the gathering room,
“Colonel Shin, put away your sword! That’s an order!” Mahrree
pushed Peto out of the way and stood in the doorway with her hands
on her hips.

Perrin lowered the sword and looked around
blankly. Jaytsy slipped out of her bed and rushed over to Peto’s
side. She didn’t know which of them was shaking more.


That was close!” she
whispered to her brother.

Peto could make only a strangled noise in
response.

Their father staggered to the sofa, sat, and
stared at the floor.

Mahrree tiptoed over to him and cautiously
laid a hand on his shoulder. “Perrin? Are you all right?”

He looked up. “What am I doing down
here?”

Peto and Jaytsy exhaled as he stared at the
sword in his hand.


You’ve been walking in
your sleep,” Mahrree told him. “I think you had another
nightmare.”


Did I scare you?” he asked
his children, almost timidly.


Yes?” they
squeaked.


I’m sorry,” he breathed,
got up, and trudged back upstairs.

Mahrree kissed each of them quickly.
“Everything’s fine!” she said too happily. “Back to bed, now!” She
followed their father up the stairs. “Perrin, give me the
sword.”

Jaytsy had never before realized how brave
her mother was.

The next morning she and Peto got their own
breakfast and ate before their parents got up. Neither of them said
it, but they both seemed to think it was just safer that way.

Two days later Jaytsy found her father asleep
on the floor by the back kitchen door, curled into a ball, with
General Shin’s sword by his side. She rushed upstairs to get her
mother, then waited on their bed until the shouting downstairs
stopped.

Everything was
not
fine, but no one
was talking about it. Peto looked at her that morning with a
mixture of understanding and dread. She returned it. At least, for
once, they had something in common.

The next night he did it again—ran around the
house shouting until he collapsed onto Peto’s bed. And again at
breakfast, no one spoke. Mealtime had never been so silent before
at the Shins.

Two nights later, Jaytsy sat terrified on her
bed, too frightened to fall asleep. When her father wasn’t
rampaging around the house, she had nightmares that he was.

Quiet footsteps coming through the eating
room made her tense in worry. Cautiously she crept to her door and
peeked through the crack. Candle light illuminated enough gathering
room for her to see her mother embracing Uncle Shem.


Thank you for coming,
Shem!” said Mahrree. “I’ve never seen him like this before. I don’t
think he’s even fully awake.”


Does he wake up when you
stop him?” Shem asked as he stepped out of her hug.


Sometimes. I think he
can’t get over
how
his parents died. He’s all right with
their passing. We’ve all felt great comfort about it. In fact, all
of Edge is benefiting; Karna sold Joriana’s jewelry for so much in
Rivers that everyone here will be well compensated—”

Jaytsy stopped hearing after that. She’d
suspected that her parents had something to do with helping get
payments to the villagers, but she’d thought that her parents
“disposing” of Grandmother’s jewelry was because they didn’t need
such finery in the house.

Just days ago Lieutenant Offra had come to
the house, a stack of pages and sharpened charcoal in hand, and a
nervous but eager smile on his face. Behind him, two assisting
soldiers sniggered.


Good afternoon, Miss!”
Offra said brightly, if not a bit unsteadily. It’s never easy being
the newest soldier; it’s even worse to be the newest young officer.
“Is your mother or father at home?”

Jaytsy sent a withering glare to the soldiers
behind him who let him walk up to the door without telling him
whose it was.


They’re out right
now.”


Could you tell them that
Lieutenant Offra from the fort was by—” he squinted a little and
cocked his head, as if something was vaguely familiar about the
situation “—and that I’ll come by again later? We’ve been given a
generous donation to help in the rebuilding of Edge, and each
household can claim a part—”


We won’t be needing any of
that donation, Offra,” Jaytsy said.

He blinked. “But . . . it’s to help cover
costs, losses—”


We’re fine, Lieutenant,”
she said firmly. “My mother and my father—
Colonel Shin
—both
agree.”

Offra’s jaw dropped, then wobbled about. “I
thought
I knew this house . . . Sorry. New village,
everything looks the same.”

Jaytsy glared at the soldiers snickering
behind him. She used to play along with the jokes on the new men.
But in the past few weeks, she and Edge and even the whole world
had changed.

Except for these inane soldiers who still
thought it good fun to set up their greenest officer.

Jaytsy had no more patience for silliness.
How could the soldiers still be so childish? Hadn’t they discovered
corpses? Seen women wail in distress? Children sob in fear? Mature
men weep quietly behind their houses? Hadn’t they lost their High
General and his wife to the very Guarders they were to be defending
the world against? And now even their own commander was—

Something in Jaytsy’s throat swelled that
day, squeezing away all lightness and joy. These ludicrous boys—the
world was already a hard place; why make it harder?


Thank you anyway,
Lieutenant Offra,” she had said. “You represent yourself, the fort,
and the army honorably. My grandfather would be proud of
you
.”

The soldiers behind Offra shuffled their
boots and glared at each other to transfer blame.

Offra nodded to Jaytsy. “Thank you, Miss
Shin. Sorry to have bothered you.” And, to his great credit, he
didn’t even glance at the penitent soldiers behind him as he headed
to the next house.

As Jaytsy stood at her bedroom door,
listening in to her mother and Uncle Shem, she smiled dimly. The
Shins were rebuilding Edge.
All
of the Shins. She knew her
parents stored gold and silver in the cellar, and she suspected
that behind the secret concealing panel was now nothing but an
empty dirt dugout.

For a moment, her heart was lighter
again—until she heard her mother sniffing and noticed Shem putting
a hand on her shoulder.


Shem, something’s going on
with Perrin. It’s as if he blames himself for how Relf and Joriana
passed.”


I know,” Shem said. “Even
Gadiman blamed him, in front of all the Administrators. That’s when
he lost his temper. Well, what was left of it. It’s as if there’s a
part of him none of us can reach. He’s exhausted and snapping at
everyone in the fort. This afternoon he fell asleep at his desk.
When I heard him snoring, I told Thorne and Offra to let him sleep.
He woke up screaming a few minutes later, and I thought for sure
our brave Captain Thorne was going to fall down the stairs in
fright,” he chuckled sadly.


What are we going to do
with him?” Mahrree sighed.


I don’t know. But I think
I had better stay hidden if he starts up again. He may not
recognize me.”

That night was quiet. It took another hour
for Jaytsy to fall asleep, but knowing Uncle Shem was on the sofa
made her feel safer. It reminded her of the time he stayed by her
bedside when she was little and her father was gone for weeks
training other fort commanders. A terrible thunderstorm was raging
outside one night, but Uncle Shem was strong enough to keep the
thunder from “getting” to her.

She never thought that someday the thunder
would be her own father.

The next night, the thunder awoke. Shortly
after Jaytsy heard Shem sneak into the house again, Colonel Shin
went on a rampage.


They’re everywhere!” he
yelled upstairs in the bedroom. “They’re coming to get
us!”

Jaytsy flung open her door to see Shem
standing at the foot of the stairs, waiting for his friend to come
running down.

But instead they heard him scream,
“MAHRREE!”

Jaytsy froze. She had
never
heard him
scream before. Now Peto’s door flew open.


No, no, NO! I’m too late!
Dear Creator, she’s
dead! Mahrree!

Jaytsy and Peto rushed up the steps behind
Shem, who was already taking them three at a time. When he threw
open the bedroom door, they saw Perrin standing and staring at the
floor, sobbing at nothing.

Their mother was kneeling on the bed trying
to turn him to face her. “I’m here! Perrin! I’m
right here
.
Look at me!”


I’m going to
kill
them!
” he wailed and pulled at his hair. “I have to kill them
all!

Jaytsy grabbed Peto, needing someone to hold
on to. She’d never seen her father so agitated before, and
certainly had never seen him cry. She didn’t know he was even
capable of it.

Peto quivered under her grip and awkwardly
put a scrawny but protective arm around her.

Shem stepped up to Perrin, spun his friend to
face him, and took him by both shoulders. “Perrin! Wake up! It’s
not real!”

Perrin paused, focused on who was holding
him, and bellowed, “YOU!”

Jaytsy and Peto cowered in the corner as
their father started to go for Shem’s throat.

Fortunately Shem was faster. He hit Perrin
squarely in the jaw, knocking him to the floor. When he didn’t
immediately get up, Mahrree scrambled off the bed to sit next to
him. He slowly sat up as Shem lit a candle and shook out his
throbbing hand.

Perrin rubbed his jaw. “What was
that
all about?” He stopped when he saw his master sergeant towering
over him. “Shem, what are you doing in my bedroom? Jaytsy?
Peto?”

They just quivered in the corner.


Tell me what you
remember,” Shem demanded, standing over him with the candle. “Right
now. What were you doing?”

Perrin still seemed stunned as he leaned
against the bed. “Uh, I was in a house. A big house. Lots of noise.
Then it became very quiet and I saw someone running through it.”
His breathing grew heavier. “Dressed in black. Darkened face.”
Tears trickled down his cheeks as he shook his head, trying to lose
the image. “Then there was a body . . .” His eyes closed. “No . . .
no . . . no! Mahrree!”


I’m right here!” Mahrree
yelled. “Perrin, open your eyes and
look at me!
” She
straddled his legs and held his face.

Jaytsy gripped Peto tighter, but he didn’t
seem to mind.

Their father opened his eyes, saw their
mother hazily, and sobbed. “How’d you survive? Are you all right?
Oh, my darling wife!” He wrapped his arms around her. “Not again,
not again . . .”

Jaytsy silently began to weep. By the way
Peto was sniffing, she could tell he was too.

That wasn’t the way their father was supposed
to act. Perrin Shin, Colonel of the fort of Edge, son of the High
General of Idumea, sitting on the floor sobbing into his wife’s
shoulder. That man was a complete stranger.

Jaytsy had never felt so lonely or so
vulnerable.

Shem set down the candle and put his hands on
her and Peto’s shoulders. “Go back downstairs,” he whispered.
“We’ll take care of him. I think your father is dealing with more
than any of us realized. The berry has finally broken the bear,” he
murmured.

Jaytsy wrinkled her nose at that odd remark,
but Peto whispered, “Uncle Shem, is he going to be all right?”

Both of them watched their mother as she
stroked their father’s weeping head. “Perrin, it’s all right! We’re
all here. You’ve kept us safe. Perrin, it’s all right.” With tears
slipping down her own face, she nodded over at her children, but
she didn’t seem too sure.


I hope so,” Shem said,
sounding deeply worried as well.

The two of them walked down the stairs, close
together, and Peto followed Jaytsy into her room.


Want to sleep on my
floor?” she offered, not wanting to be alone, even if it did mean
her company was her brother.

He nodded, retrieved his pillow and blanket,
and lay down next to her bed.


They’ve ruined him,” Peto
whispered to the dark.

Jaytsy closed her eyes, afraid he might be
right. Peto didn’t specify who “they” were, but Jaytsy felt as if
the whole world was out to get them. Her parents—her father
especially—had done so much for the world, and this was how it was
repaying them?

And what had they ruined him for? Peto likely
meant for being a general, but Jaytsy was fine with that. She’d be
happy to never see Idumea again, the city that let her grandparents
be murdered by a dressmaker.

When they awoke the next morning it was to
find their parents and Shem sitting around the table, talking
quietly. Judging by their stooped postures and bleary eyes, it
didn’t seem as if any of them had slept. But of the three, their
father looked the worst. His eyes were bloodshot, and he had a
bruise on his jaw where Shem had hit him. He tried to give them a
smile, but half of his face wouldn’t move. Instead, he beckoned
them to come to the table.

They hesitated before sitting down.


I’m sorry about last
night, or rather, about the past few nights, so I’m told. I’m a
little . . . bothered right now. But I’m working on it. I just need
you to be patient with me, all right?”

BOOK: The Falcon in the Barn (Book 4 Forest at the Edge series)
10.55Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub
ads

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