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) (3 page)

BOOK: The Falcon in the Barn (Book 4 Forest at the Edge series)
6.45Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub
ads

Jaytsy and Peto both nodded to him, but he
still seemed so unfamiliar.

Their mother gave them a look that said she
expected something more. Peto caught on and went to his father,
giving him a hug from behind.

Jaytsy quickly joined him and kissed her
father on the cheek. “You’ll be all right, I know it.”

But he wasn’t. Even Jaytsy knew it would take
a lot longer than talking throughout the night to bring him all the
way back from Idumea.

Shem stayed almost every night for the next
several weeks, physically restraining Perrin when he became
aggressive in his sleep. One night the two of them got into such a
violent fight—Perrin sure that Shem was a Guarder—that it took the
family an hour to put everything back in place the next day. It was
early that morning when Jaytsy heard her exhausted mother talking
to Shem after her father stormed off for the fort.


We can’t go on like this, Shem. None of us. He
refuses to give up the sword, insisting that isn’t the problem. The
less sleep he gets, the more irrational he becomes. He’s so angry,
but I’m not sure at whom. I’ve thought about writing Doctor Brisack
for help. Surely he or the garrison surgeons must’ve seen something
like this?”

Shem, holding his side where Perrin had hit
him with a chair, nodded sadly. “Mahrree, just don’t tell Brisack
everything
. Only that he’s having a hard time sleeping. If
you tell them about his nightmares and paranoia, the garrison may
insist on doing something drastic. The last thing he needs is to be
sedated.”

Jaytsy’s eyebrows went up.

Her father had told them about the sedation
that was forced upon him after he confronted the Administrators
over his parents’ deaths. The garrison surgeon and Doctor Brisack
had felt it was the only way to calm him down, especially after he
tried to kill Gadiman. And when he had described to them the
effects of sedation, his clenched fists made it was obvious he
hadn’t been too happy about it.


Are you sure?” Mahrree’s
question stunned Jaytsy. “Shem, it might be just what he needs.
Even when he isn’t looking for a fight, he thrashes all night long.
At this point,
I
could use some sedation.”

Shem sighed. “Maybe you’re right. I don’t
know how much longer you or he can keep this up. Just send a
message. Use the Administrators’ service, but say only that he
needs help sleeping.”

Three nights later, on the 2
nd
Day
of Weeding, Mahrree stayed up late waiting for Shem to come to the
back door.

Jaytsy had been waiting too, to confront
them.


What are you going to do
to him?” Jaytsy asked pointedly when she saw the brown bottle Shem
held.


I’m not doing anything,”
Shem said bitterly. “Your mother is.”

Jaytsy had never seen her Uncle Shem’s eyes
so hard. Usually he looked warmly at Mahrree, but not tonight as he
thrust the bottle and a small paper of instructions at her.


It will just help him
sleep,” defended Mahrree, taking the bottle and reading the note
from Idumea. “He won’t even know he’s breathed it in. Brisack
thinks it will take only a few doses for a few weeks until he’s
better. His body just doesn’t remember how to function. This will
get him back in a regular schedule again. And I’m sure once he
sleeps better, he’ll think better.” She didn’t look at either of
them before marching up the stairs.

Shem sat down with an angry huff on the sofa
in the dark.

Jaytsy joined him. “What’s really wrong with
him?” she asked. “I’m old enough to know why my mother wants to
sedate him.”


So am I,” said Peto from
his door. He walked over to the sofa and sat down on the other side
of Shem.

Shem sighed deeply. “He’s traumatized. I had to
look it up in one of the old texts from the time of the kings. The
surgeon doesn’t know why I wanted to see his library. It seems this
was a big problem during the Great War. Soldiers would suddenly
collapse during a bloody and prolonged fight. A few even went
inexplicably blind after seeing so much death. Many of them had
been fighting for years and simply couldn’t take any more. Some of
the great leaders made it through the war, then went somewhere
peaceful and took their own lives. Or, in the case of one general,
just vanished.”


A general just vanished?”
Peto asked.


Yes,” Shem said softly.
“Left one afternoon, and was never seen again. His wife and son
never found out what happened to him. Perhaps he was like so many
others; they just saw too much death to make life worth living
anymore.”

Jaytsy was grateful it was dark so that no
one could see the tears streaking down her face. But the darkness
couldn’t mask her sobs.

Shem groaned quietly when he heard her. “Shh,
Jaytsy—don’t fret yet. I don’t think your father is at that point.
I’m sure we can still bring him back.” He put an arm around each of
the teens and pulled them close to him.


Why isn’t he dreaming of
the caravan fight?” Peto asked, his voice quivering. “He took down
sixteen men. I know lots of them died. Why isn’t he reliving
that?”


I guess because he was
successful there,” Shem suggested. “But he wasn’t in saving his
parents. All of his dreams are about people coming into his home
and killing his family.”


So what do we do?” Jaytsy
whimpered.


I’ve been reading about
that, too. Sit with him. Talk with him. Help him distinguish what’s
real and what isn’t. The book says we need to be patient. Don’t
give him anything else to worry about, and realize that maybe,
maybe
he just might not come back all the way,” Shem’s voice
cracked. “You need to ask yourselves, can you live with that? Can
you accept your father the way he is?”


Of course they can!”
Mahrree snapped as she came down the stairs. “Because he’ll be
fine! Already he’s sleeping as deeply as Peto, and I didn’t hold it
in front of his nose as long as Brisack recommended. So don’t go
sentencing him yet, Shem!”


Mahrree,” Shem said,
standing up, “I didn’t mean it that way. They just need to know.
From what I read, things like this can take a long time to come
back from. And some—Mahrree, you
have
to know—some never
come back.”


But can’t we pray?” Peto
asked quietly. “Can’t the Creator heal him? Help him still reach .
. . his destiny?”


Destiny?” Jaytsy
wondered.

Peto sighed. “You know what I mean. Whatever
he’s supposed to still be. We can always pray, can’t we?”

Mahrree wrapped her arms around him. “I have
been, every night, every morning. And Shem, I know you’re right. I
just can’t give up on him already.”


And you may be right,
Mahrree, about the sedation. Maybe sleeping
will
help.” Shem
hesitated. “I want to see him.”

Mahrree tilted her head. “Something
wrong?”

Shem’s shoulder twitched. “I merely . . . want to
make sure he’s all right before I go. The assistants at the
garrison frequently checked his pulse.”

Suddenly worried, Mahrree gestured to the
stairs.

Jaytsy and Peto took that as a group
invitation. They followed Shem and their mother up to the bedroom
where a candle was burning. Their father was flopped on the bed,
very still.

Shem picked up his wrist and felt his
pulse.


I gave him only half of
what they recommended,” Mahrree began, mild panic growing in her
voice. “He should be—”


He’s fine,” Shem said
flatly. He dropped his wrist and lifted open one of Perrin’s
eyelids to peer into his unresponsive eye. “The Last Day could come
and go, and he’d never know it. Pulse is slow but steady. Well
done, Mrs. Shin,” his tone turned cold. “Your husband’s fully
sedated.”

Mahrree folded her arms. “That’s the
idea!”

Shem held his hands up in surrender. “I know.
I’m sorry. I just hate seeing him like this. Again.”

Jaytsy didn’t think he looked so bad—like a
sleeping baby, albeit a large and gruff sleeping baby.

Peto craned his neck. “He looks rather
peaceful to me.”


And me too,” said Mahrree,
unfolding her arms. She turned to her children. “You can go to bed
now.” She hugged each of them and whispered, “Enjoy the
silence.”

They smiled at her, but Shem kept watching
their father.

As Jaytsy and Peto started out the door, Shem
said, “Nothing more for me to do here. I’ll be heading back to the
fort—”

Jaytsy was at the top of the stairs when she
heard her mother earnestly whisper, “Do you have to go?”

Jaytsy paused, thinking the same thing. While
her father looked peaceful, he also looked defenseless.

Which meant all of them were.

She turned to watch Shem and her mother
through the open bedroom door.

Shem exhaled, expelling a great deal of
frustration and concern, but her mother put her arms around
him.

He didn’t hug her back.


I’m sorry Shem, about all
of this. About doing what you think is a betrayal to
him.”


That’s not what
I—”


Yes, it
is
what you
think,” said Mahrree firmly, pulling away to look at his face, but
still keeping her arms around him. “We’re betraying
him.”

Shem didn’t budge.


It’s obvious you’re angry
with me, and I don’t blame you. But Shem—is there any other option?
Any other way to heal him?”

Shem’s jaw muscles clenched a few times
before his shoulders sagged. “No other option I’ve found yet,” he
conceded quietly. “But you don’t need me here, not tonight.”


Please stay,
though?”

Jaytsy was quietly pleading the same
thing.

For some reason Shem looked extremely
uncomfortable. He stepped back out of Mahrree’s embrace and nodded
once. “Just to make sure he’s all right during the night. Your sofa
and I are well acquainted. Good night, Mahrree.” He nearly ran over
Jaytsy in his haste to get down the stairs.

That was only part of the reason why Jaytsy sat
up late at night, hugging her knees and dreading to go to sleep.
She was exceptionally preoccupied, more so than the average
fifteen-year-old. Maybe her father needed only one or two nights to
get back to normal again. Maybe all of his anger and odd behaviors
would blow over quickly, then she could tell them her
other
concern.

She had planned to do so in the morning,
until she heard Uncle Shem say, “Don’t give him anything else to
worry about.”

She couldn’t even confide in her mother, she
realized, until things got better with her father. Nor was her
grandmother a possibility. Hycymum Peto wasn’t exactly the most
discreet woman in the village.

Jaytsy would have to take care of this
herself.

Not even Uncle Shem, who was now flopped
wearily on the sofa, should be troubled by her news that Captain
Lemuel Thorne, seven years older, was trying to court her.

The odd ritual began some weeks ago. School
had resumed on the 56
th
Day of Planting, the day after
Perrin’s first bad night. By the end of that worrying week, Jaytsy
struggled to stay awake in class. That is, until Captain Thorne
appeared in the room.


Please, do forgive the
interruption,” he said genially to the teacher as he took off his
cap. He ran his hand unnecessarily through this short-cropped
blonde hair to smooth it. Every girl in the room stopped whatever
unimportant thing she was doing and stared.

But Jaytsy closed her eyes briefly and held
her breath.


I’m Captain Thorne, new to
Edge and second in command. You see, ma’am, girls—” he nodded to
the class and flashed a grin.

There was audible sighing. But not from
Jaytsy.

“—
there’s concern about the
stability of the building. I’m here to do one last check to make
sure the reinforcements are holding.”

It took their teacher long enough to blink
herself back into comprehension of what the captain was saying to
be embarrassing. “Oh.
Oh!
But I thought the major cleared it
a couple of weeks ago?”


Oh, he did,” Thorne
assured her, but turned his gaze intently to Jaytsy.

Somehow it made her skin crawl, and not in a
good way.


But now that there’s
weight on every level, we just wanted to make one last
inspection.”

Jaytsy was sure no one at the fort had
ordered that. The next thing Captain Thorne said to the teacher
solidified her suspicions.


If you or any of the other
teachers see anything worrisome, notify Miss Jaytsy. She knows
where she can find me.” He shifted his gaze back to Jaytsy. “I’m
always
available.” He bowed briefly to her as he had done at
The Dinner, then bowed at the teacher before he left.

Jaytsy barely had time to exhale before one
of her classmates giggled. “Ooh, I’d
love
to know where to
find the captain, and always
available!

The entire class laughed as Jaytsy blushed.
She noticed that even her teacher’s gaze lingered at the door where
the captain had stood.

For the rest of the morning she thought about
him, since everyone else was. But something about the way he looked
at her had left Jaytsy uneasy. Perhaps it was because she was
preoccupied by other concerns, but something about Captain Thorne
sent a shiver up her spine. While she’d spent a couple of hours
with Thorne at the dance after The Dinner, she didn’t know much
more about him except that he loved horses.

BOOK: The Falcon in the Barn (Book 4 Forest at the Edge series)
6.45Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub
ads

Other books

The Nightmare Factory by Thomas Ligotti
The Family by Martina Cole
Banksy by Gordon Banks
Reluctantly Royal by Nichole Chase
Cougar's Prey (9781101544846) by Sweazy, Larry D.
Lipstick Apology by Jennifer Jabaley
In Bed with a Spy by Alyssa Alexander
Angelfire by Courtney Allison Moulton