Quinlan crawled over the ground until he was lying on his stomach beside Fane and Talon. As they surveyed the large town that lay at the bottom of the hill he spoke as he nudged Talon’s shoulder.
“Have you seen anything yet?” He asked.
Fane raised his head and looked across Talon’s back and shook his head. “Not yet, but I feel we are close.
Quinlan shivered. “I think Brayden is being held here.”
“Does it feel as though your bonded heartbeats becoming more distinct… like they’re synchronising.” When Quinlan nodded Fane continued. “I’ve been feeling it too. I think our heartbeats are leading us to the other parts of us—the missing parts. I think yours will lead you to my son, and mine will lead me to his father’s grave.”
The weird thing was Quinlan didn’t agree, so he said. “I still hold out hope that King Thayer is still alive.”
“Then you’re a better man than I,” Fane shook his head.
“If he’s here we’ll find him, and we’ll bring him home—even if it’s just his body. The king should be laid to rest in the castle’s royal ground, and not out here in the middle of nowhere.” Quinlan stated. “But I still think maybe there’s a chance he’s alive. Never give up hope.”
A harsh laugh filled the air around them. “Hope left me ten years ago when I found my son lying in a bloody and mangled mess beside the body of my sister. That’s the day I stopped believing.”
“Well looky-looky,” Talon handed the spy glass to Quinlan, “Tell me if you see anyone familiar down there.”
Quinlan lifted the glass to his eye and hissed as a man came into focus. “Ormand! So the bastard did have something to do with Brayden’s disappearance. I just knew he was in it up to his neck.”
“He has a lot to answer for that’s for sure.” Talon held up his finger against his mouth, “Someone comes,” he whispered.
They all listened to the sound of the Nightjar call and relief flooded the. “Come Ingrid.” Quinlan smiled. “I see you found us.”
Ingrid snorted, “You didn’t cover you tracks really well even a blind man could’ve followed you lot.” She sat on her haunches, her leather breeches pulling tight across her thighs. “I’ve already scouted the town. Ormand’s here,” She shook her head, “he’s not the threat we’ll be up against though. There’s this guy and he’s so familiar to me. The problem is I just can’t place him. My gut is telling me he’s evil, and power hungry.”
“Have you seen or heard anything about Brayden?” Quinlan asked.
Ingrid dropped her head and stared at the ground in silence for a moment. “I never saw him. But he’s here. They’re keeping him alive because they want the child he carries. I heard two guards laughing about how the child would be the key to ruling Panthea.”
“What?” Quinlan asked.
“If they have Brayden and the child—your child, then they have a means of controlling you.” Talon said matter of factly.
“They want to rule Panthea? I thought this was just a sect who wanted to wipe out the old ones?” Quinlan couldn’t help but think this was getting more confusing by the minute.
Ingrid pulled at the grass in front of her. “That was their original plan. Apparently, they have a new plan now. We have another problem. Not only do these arseholes have Brayden, but they have King Thayer as well.”
“Thayer!” Fane gasped.
“So the king is alive,” Quinlan smiled, “then it looks like we really do have to rescue two people.” Turning to the shocked Fane he added. “I told you to never give up hope.”
“That’s not going to be easy. From what I heard while scouting King Thayer has been scheduled for execution for crimes against humanity.”
Fane paled. “When?”
“Tomorrow morning. He’s sentenced to be dismembered and burnt. They’re not taking any chances of him surviving this. Nor do they want his beast to break free.”
“Why would they kill him?” Quinlan asked. This wasn’t making any sense if they wanted offspring of the ancient ones then why not breed the king?
“Since being held here he’s always stood up to them. They don’t need him now they have Brayden and the child. He’s scheduled to die at dawn.”
With a nod Quinlan stated. “So we rescue him tonight.”
“We can’t go in swords a swinging. The first sign we’re here, and they’ll kill them all. We go in with just a few of us. Leave the rest here. Cleric Saskia and Milo can take charge. Unless you want to stay behind and keep the guards in check?”
“Not likely,” Quinlan snorted, “that’s my husband in there. I’m going.”
Ingrid smiled and bumped shoulders with Quinlan as the stood. They both knew he’d refuse being left behind. Yet he also knew as his bodyguard she had to ask. Now he knew why Ingrid had insisted Cleric Saskia needed to come along with them. She knew they’d need someone they trusted to look after things.
“Gear up…” Quinlan grinned evilly, “We have a king and his son to rescue.”
Brayden scrambled across the room as his father’s battered body was thrown unceremoniously onto the ground within their cell. “Say your goodbyes. This is the last time you will get the chance to speak to him again.” Callous laughter followed two of the guards from the room.
“Father?” Brayden sobbed as he brushed his father’s matted hair off of his face. “What have they done to you?”
“Make your peace with him son, he’s scheduled for death with the coming of the dawn.”
Brayden looked up and saw such sadness in the eyes of the guard who still stood before him. This guard he’d only seen a couple of times, he was always as friendly as he could be without getting reprimanded. Brayden often thought the guard didn’t belong here. “What is your name guard?”
“Josep, my name is Josep MacLean.” He said as he straightened up.
Brayden smiled sadly. “When my husband comes for me, I will remember your kindness, Josep MacLean.”
Josep nodded, “For your sake I hope he hurries. Tondran’s started saying someone might have to be mated to you for this to work. He’s chosen himself to be your new mate.”
“No!” Brayden cried out. “I’m already mated. I don’t want anyone else.”
“In his eyes that little fact can be rectified by killing your current husband. Once the bond’s severed, then you’ll be his for the taking.”
Brayden’s father groaned in pain. He must have been listening to the conversation. “Once the bond is severed there is no more,” he whispered, “kill one—and they both die.”
“Thank the Gods for that.” Brayden wept as he pulled his father into his arms. He was glad for that news, because there was no way in hell he’d want to live in a world without Quinlan.