Read The Silent Tempest (Book 2) Online

Authors: Michael G. Manning

Tags: #fantasy, #magic, #wizard, #mage, #sorcery

The Silent Tempest (Book 2) (26 page)

BOOK: The Silent Tempest (Book 2)
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Her thoughts came as a surprise. She was
alive. Brigid’s memory was fuzzy, but she was pretty sure that she wasn’t
supposed to be alive.
I died. He killed me.

The brilliant aythar that radiated from
the man next to her belonged to Tyrion, her father—her murderer.
Why is he
here?
She still couldn’t resolve him very well with her magesight, so she
risked opening her left eye a fraction of an inch.

He was beside the bed, his arms folded on
the mattress to form a rest for his head.

Several facts made themselves known to her
then. First, she was definitely alive, second, she was lying in Tyrion’s bed,
and third, none of it was fair.
I thought it was over. I didn’t want
this. Why am I still here?

There might be an upside to her situation,
however.

Fighting past the nausea and pain, she
forced her magesight to show her Tyrion in better detail. He was definitely
asleep. He had no shield. There was really only one thing she wanted still,
and that was to kill him. Her last hope had been that she could accomplish
that, before he had nearly killed her instead.

Apparently he failed,
she noted.

Where was the sword? He had given her his
magical wooden sword, with instructions to kill herself if she was unable to
face her duty in the next arena battle. She was certain she couldn’t muster
enough aythar yet to take advantage of Tyrion’s current vulnerability, but if
she had something sharp, she could possibly manage to inflict a mortal wound
before he could wake up.

She found it.

It was lying on the floor a few feet from
the bed against one of the walls. Someone must have brought it in with her and
left it there. That was problematic. She couldn’t see herself using magic to
pull it to herself, not in her current state, anyway. Maybe she could slip out
of bed and walk to it?

She scooted sideways. Her body responded
perfectly, but shooting pains echoed through her skull. It was an intense
agony that made her hiss through her teeth. She stopped before she cried out.
The pain faded, leaving an uncomfortable nausea in its wake.

Tears of frustration leaked from the
corners of her eyes. There was no way she could make it. A golden opportunity
was being wasted, and there was little she could do about it. She lay still
and opened her eyes more fully, giving herself time to adjust to the light.

It was painful, but after a while her
headache faded. Movement was still out, but at least she could look around.
Brigid studied the man leaning on the bed next to her.

Tyrion’s hair was dark, as dark as hers,
almost a raven black, though it was beginning to show a few gray hairs here and
there. There was no denying the resemblance between them. In coloring, she
had taken entirely after him. Brigid’s features were fine boned and delicate,
like her mother’s, like her sister Kate’s, but her hair, eyes, and skin, were
entirely his. Kate’s skin was fair but sprinkled with freckles, while Brigid’s
was unblemished, white in the winter and darkening to a smooth olive in the
summer months.

A shade identical to his bronzed shoulders
now.

It made her sick. She had never hated her
own body more than she did then. If she could have chosen, she would have
looked like Violet, who somehow had been born looking more like Kate and her
mother than Brigid herself, even though they were unrelated.

The scars that had marked him when she
first met him were gone. They had vanished after the freak storm when they had
just arrived at the Illeniel Grove, but his body was still covered in strange
tattoos. The symbols were tools, and she knew that when he used them, he was
invincible. She had seen it often enough already. The shields the tattoos
created were far superior to anything she could make, or anything that he could
make without them, for that matter.

If I just had a knife.

As if in response to her thought, his head
rose from his arms. Ice blue eyes stared into her own. They were like twins,
male and female images mirrored against one another. Tyrion smiled.

“You’re awake.”

She clenched her jaw, and her eyes darted
once more to the sword lying on the floor across the room.

He followed her gaze, “Have you been
watching me sleep?”

Brigid didn’t answer.

A flicker of something passed across his
face, like a cold breeze across an autumn lake. For a moment she saw
something.
Pain?
It vanished as quickly as it came, replaced by a
satisfied expression.

“Were you thinking about killing me in my
sleep?” he said teasingly.

She looked away.

A hand reached out, stroking her hair,
sending waves of nausea through her as the motion jostled her skull. “You
really are my daughter, heart and soul.”

Standing, he walked across the room to
retrieve the sword and brought it back. He drew it from its sheath and
reversed it, putting the hilt in her hand. “Does that feel better?” he asked,
and then he sat down again, bringing his bare chest within reach.

Brigid’s baleful gaze burned into him as
her hand closed around the weapon. Clenching her fingers sent shivers of agony
down her spine, but she ignored them. Her arm shook as she lifted the blade,
pointing it toward his heart.

“That’s the spirit,” said Tyrion,
encouraging her and leaning closer. “It must be terribly difficult to
coordinate your movements right now. You took a bad blow to the head. I can
appreciate your determination. All you need to do now is thrust. This is your
chance.”

Her anger pulsed, white-hot. Surging up
from the bed, she drove her arm forward with all the strength she could manage,
ignoring the blinding pain. Darkness overwhelmed her, and she lost awareness
of her surroundings for a moment. When it receded, she found herself still lying
in the bed, her head throbbing. The hilt was still in her hand.

Opening her eyes again, she saw him
holding the blade in his hand. Blood oozed from it, running slowly down the
blade to gather on the quillons before dripping to the sheets.

Tyrion didn’t release the sharp wood,
instead he pulled it closer, using the razor edged tip to cut a bloody ‘x’ in
the skin of his chest, over his heart. “There’s what you want—right there.
I’ve even marked it for you.”

She tried once more to push it in, but his
grip was like iron, the blade never moved. Brigid growled at him as more tears
ran down her cheeks. The pain of her effort finally became too great, however,
and she released the hilt, sagging back down into the bed.

Tyrion lifted the weapon, taking the hilt
in his other hand before cleaning it on the sheets. Then he sheathed it and
healed the cuts on his hand and chest, leaving thin silver lines where he had
marked himself.

“I wish I could let you have what you
want,” he told her, “but I need you to do something for me first.”

She gave him a tired stare.

“You have to kill Haley,” he added.

“No,” she answered, using her voice for
the first time since she had awoken. Her tongue felt clumsy, and the sound
sent more pain echoing through her skull.

“You must. If you don’t, she will kill
the others, one by one.”

“She’s my friend.”

“She understands the arena. They’ll put
her in there, and she will cut you apart, just like she did with Gabriel,” he
explained.

“Then I would rather die,” argued Brigid.

“It won’t just be you. It will be all of them.
Kill her and you can save them,” he said, before pausing. Tyrion pointed at
the ‘x’ on his chest, “Kill her and I’ll give you what you want.”

“You lie.”

He pointed to the tattoos that lined his
arms. “I will give you these. Use them and you can cut through my defenses,
if you try hard enough.”

“You won’t let me.”

Her father shook his head, “I will let
you, but even if you don’t believe me, you know that at the very least, it will
give you a chance, even if I tried to renege.”

“I hate you.”

“Do we have a deal?” he asked, ignoring
the statement.

She gave a single nod.

“I’ll start the tattoos tomorrow, while
you’re recovering,” he told her. “We only have a few more days before they
call us back to the arena.”

Chapter 26

Abby was waiting outside as he emerged.
She immediately noticed the blood on his skin. “What happened?” She looked
into the room, noting the stains on the sheets and the tears on her sister’s
face. “What did you do?!” She ran in to check on Brigid.

Tyrion ignored her, walking out past the
others gathered in the front rooms on either side of the hallway.

Kate followed Abby inside the room, a
question in her eyes as she passed him, though it went unsaid. He heard her
gasp after she went inside. “There’s blood all over the bed.”

The others were giving him worried looks,
but he blocked their path to the bedroom. “It’s not hers,” he said simply.
“Get outside, we have work to do.”

Anthony Long was already there, vomiting
to one side of the front door. His aythar was flickering madly.

“Looks like someone else is awakening,”
said Tyrion. “Go lie down. You’ll join the others tomorrow,” he told the boy
before looking around. “Where’s Layla?”

“In the other bedroom,” said Ryan.

“Tell her to come out,” he ordered, but
then he thought better of it. “Nevermind, I’ll fetch her myself.”

Going back inside, he found the female
warden. “I need your assistance today.”

“You said I couldn’t be seen without the
collar,” she reminded him.

“I’ve changed my mind.”

“And if one of the She’Har visits?”

“Get inside, hopefully before they
notice.”

She frowned, “And if they do notice? I
could be killed.”

Tyrion shrugged, “I’m willing to take that
risk.”

He got them started with new exercises,
forcing them to stretch their imaginations, visualizing and creating shields in
ever more complex shapes. Layla focused on Ashley, Ian, and Violet, since they
were the newest to their powers and hadn’t yet been blooded in the arena.

After a quarter of an hour he addressed
them again, “Keep at this for another two hours, and then I want you to resume
work on your dormitory, except for you three.” He pointed at Layla’s three
charges. “I want you to keep them working on the basics until dinnertime,” he
told her. Then he turned and began to walk.

“Where are you going?” asked the warden.

“There are some things I need to take care
of in the grove,” he answered without looking back.

A half an hour later and he was deep
within the Illeniel Grove. He walked without purpose, but his feet led him
once more to Lyralliantha’s home. Ascending the great trunk, he found her
sleeping platform and lay down on the bed he had shared with her so many
times. Only there did he ease the grip he had on his thoughts.

Visions of Brigid filled his mind, her
vivid blue eyes burning into him once more; the same eyes that had once looked
at him in awe while he played the cittern so many years before. A little girl
then, she had played with his parent’s dog and smiled with an innocence that
was truly gone now.

Her hatred burned. It ate at him in a way
that left his stomach cold and his body restless. His years with the She’Har
had been largely devoid of strong emotions. Even when he had first been
trained by Thillmarius, the lore-warden had punished him with passionless
efficiency. The only hatred he had faced had been from some of his human
opponents in the arena, and that never bothered him.

Even Kate’s disdain, as painful as it was,
didn’t bother him as much. She didn’t want him dead, but Brigid did. She
stared at him from his memory with a face that might have been his own, if he
had been born a woman, and in her heart he could see nothing greater than her
desire to erase his existence.

I wanted them to hate me,
he reminded himself.

But he had known Brigid and Haley better
than the others. He had known of them before he returned to the She’Har, ten
years ago. The other children he hadn’t met until a few weeks past, but those
two girls he had known about. He had met them, he had dreamed of them, and he
had hoped for them for the past ten years.

Now he was about to force one to kill the
other, and she hated him for it. She despised him even without that fact, and
she wanted nothing more than to end his life.

His stomach twisted.
I feel nothing.

He was exhausted from his long vigil at
his daughter’s bedside, yet it still took hours before he slept, and when the
darkness finally claimed his consciousness, it did not offer much relief. His
dreams were troubled with nightmares of what the future held.

***

It was midmorning the next day before
Tyrion returned to Albamarl. He hadn’t intended to spend the night away, but
his body had had different ideas once he had lapsed into deeper slumber. His
mind was clearer now, and his inner turmoil had faded somewhat.

He hadn’t realized how exhausted he had
been, but things seemed better now that he could face the world without a
mental fog behind his brow. Thinking of his promise to Brigid brought a
curious kind of peace with it now. He had done what he could. He would make
her ready, he would give her the tools she needed to win. Once that was
accomplished he could let her take his life with fewer regrets.

Once Haley was out of the way, the others
would have much better chances of surviving. Some might die, but he couldn’t
take responsibility for everything the She’Har did. Most of them would live
and eventually become wardens, no longer required to fight in the arena.

Most importantly he could lay down his
burden. His hatred for the She’Har, for what they had done to humanity, to
him, to his children, he could set it aside and let death erase his past,
present, and future.

It wasn’t that he wanted to die, but if
that was what was required to get Brigid to play her part, then it was a worthy
price to pay, and one that would release him from his personal suffering in the
bargain. He was tired of anger, tired of driving the people he cared for away,
and most of all, he was tired of remembering his sins whenever he looked in
their faces.

The sun was halfway up now, brilliantly
highlighting the world around him. The wind sang in the trees and whispered
its secrets in his ears, while birdsong floated by, a friendly accompaniment to
a world so beautiful that it made the soul ache. A world that lived and
breathed to serve the She’Har.

“Go fuck yourself,” he said, addressing
the universe in general, and then he smiled.

“Good morning to you as well, my lord,”
responded Layla who had just come within earshot.

“That was for the rest of the world,” he
explained before adding, “but feel free to include yourself as well. I
wouldn’t want anyone to feel left out.”

She gave a short laugh, sensing his good
humor. Humor in itself was an unusual thing for Tyrion.

He began rattling off orders, “Keep them
moving today, same routine as yesterday. Two or three hours practice for those
that have already been blooded and all day for the new ones. Start working
with Anthony as well, he will be unsteady, but one of the others can work with
him individually to get him acclimated. I would suggest Abby or Emma for that
task. After lunch, have the experienced ones work on the dormitory again.”

Layla absorbed his words before
responding, “You sound as if you won’t be there.”

“I will be working with Brigid today.”

The female warden frowned, “She is still
weak from her ordeal. Shouldn’t she rest another day or two?”

The irony of a warden suggesting leniency
almost made him laugh, but he suppressed the urge. “She won’t be doing much.
You’ll understand later.”

Layla had questions, but she kept them to
herself, which was a quality that he often wished Kate and the others from
Colne would cultivate. Leaving her behind, he made for the house, but Ryan
Carter ran up to him before he could get to the door.

“Sir,” said the boy.

“Call me Tyrion,” he told Ryan. “Or, if
you’re feeling formal ‘Lord’,” he paused then before adding, “Or if you want to
be formal and familiar at the same time, I will even accept ‘Father’, but only
if you are willing to accept the burden of being an heir of my blackened
heart.”

Ryan stared at him, mouth half open,
unsure how to respond. Tyrion sounded as though he was making a joke, but he
had learned to never assume such things where the older man was concerned.
Mistakes could have painful consequences.

Tyrion took pity on him, “Tell me what you
needed to say.”

“Uh—my lord, the dormitory is progressing,
but we need other materials to finish it properly,” said the boy at last.

“What materials?”

“Iron. Simple pig-iron will do, and the
shape doesn’t matter. We can shape it ourselves, but we can’t make hinges and
door fittings with only wood and stone,” answered the teen. “Well, we
could,
but it would be much better if we could make them from iron. I’ve seen the
fittings in your house, but I don’t know where you obtained the metal.”

Tyrion nodded, “How much do you need?”

“A hundred pounds at least,” said Ryan
immediately. “But we can use as much as you can provide. I can find a use for
a lot more than that, if it’s available.”

As much as I can provide, eh?
thought Tyrion.
Somehow I doubt that.

“It will be in the yard by the lumber pile
in the morning,” he told the skinny lad.

Ryan’s brows knitted together in
confusion, “Where will you get it?”

Tyrion graced him with a genial smile and
wordlessly left him, entering the house and closing the door behind himself.
Once inside he almost stumbled directly into Kate, and there was an awkward
silence as the two of them stepped clumsily around one another.

The others were all outside now, except
for Brigid who still occupied his bedroom, so the two of them were completely
alone. Tyrion spoke first, “I didn’t intend for you to hear that yesterday.”

Kate frowned, unsure why he would
apologize for kind words. “I shouldn’t have been listening.”

Another pause ensued while he tried to
figure out where to go from there. “I know coming here has been hard for you,
and I made things worse by interfering with you and Layla, but that was just my
frustration coming out. She only did what I forced her to do. You shouldn’t
hold it against her.” He knew the two of them hadn’t been intimate since he
had ‘borrowed’ Layla, and he thought it would be good if they could smooth out
their differences. It was all the more important now that he didn’t expect to
be around much longer, not that he could tell Kate that.

“What?”

He repeated himself.

She gave him a look that seemed less than
flattering, “You think I’m angry with you for what happened with the two of
you?”

Tyrion laughed, trying to cover a sudden
feeling of uncertainty. “No, you have plenty of other reasons to be angry with
me. I just don’t want you to hold it against her. Friends are rare in this
place, and you’ll need her in…”

Kate held up her hand, “Just shut up a
second. You had sex with yet
another
woman, and you are worried that I
might be angry with her? Do I have it right this time?”

His uncertain footing was making him
irritable. He felt vulnerable talking to Kate, and over time he had come to
truly hate feeling vulnerable. “Yeah, that’s about it,” he said. “I was
angry, jealous, tired, and horny, and I took it out on you and Layla the only
way I knew how, so don’t hold it against her.”

Her eyes narrowed, “I gave up
everything
to follow you here, my family, my
son,
everything, just so I could
keep an eye on Brigid, and maybe, just maybe, help you. And now you suggest
that I am jealous of yet another of your conquests? After fifteen years in
Colne, after all the women you impregnated, you think I’m upset about Layla?”

He lightened his tone, “You certainly
sound angry.”

Her eyes flashed with green fire, “I’m
angry because you are a complete
ass
!”

The challenge was thrown now, and he was
more than glad to take it up. Anger he understood, anger was his close
companion. It was certainly more comfortable to him than vague feelings and
uncertainty. “No,” he insisted, “you’re jealous. The only real question is,
were you jealous because I fucked your girlfriend, or were you jealous because
your girlfriend fucked me?”

Kate’s face went through a remarkable
transformation. Furious, she struggled to restrain her temper as her hands
clenched and unclenched. She could feel her lip starting to tremble so she bit
down on it and closed her eyes before taking a deep breath. “I have other
things to do,” she replied in an even tone.

Tyrion watched her walk away. His anger
was draining away, and he mentally reviewed his remarks. It was clear that he
hadn’t made the best use of his words, not if his intentions were to make peace
with Kate.
I seem to be the world’s worst apologist. The next time I think
about saying ‘I’m sorry’ to someone, I should just walk up and slap them. It
will be faster, and the same thing will be accomplished.

BOOK: The Silent Tempest (Book 2)
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