Friday, April 15, 2011

Chapter 43 Return

"There they are. Alex, stay back."

Alex glances at Jimmy with a furrowed brow. Kyrene smoothly glides between Jimmy and Alex, gently tugging him and his daughter, Odessa, away. His eyes land on me for a moment before they glance past me, and then he goes with Kyrene, away from us.

I hesitate and turn to look in the direction Alex's eyes last faced and there I see them, both walking towards us, huge shadows coming from the village. Both of them broad shouldered with shadows covering their faces.

Jimmy grabs my arm and pulls me with him towards them. "You're okay, right?"

I glance from his arm up to his face as I follow along.

Jimmy gives me a soft shake. "You're fine, right? And you went willingly."

He emphasizes the last part, and it clicks. That's probably why Alex asked me even if he might have known that Jimmy wouldn't let him take me back. Technically, I did go willingly, and that's the thought I hold onto. My agreeing to go and help Alex save his daughter.

I nod. "I'm fine."

"Tell them that."

My short legs struggle to keep up with Jimmy's long ones. Kyrene and Alex are far enough behind us that I can't see them. It's just the four of us. Brandon pads over to me and wraps his arms around me just as Jimmy releases me and faces Henri. The tiny glimpse of Henri I catch before being enveloped in Brandon's hug doesn't look happy.

Brandon pulls back leaving his hands on my shoulders, "Are you okay, kid?"

"Yeah, I'm fine." Jimmy stands in front of Henri quietly speaking so that even a few feet from them, I can't hear them. Henri stands in front of him with his arms crossed and his brows furrowed, the lines around his eyes deepened. The air is almost charged with the anger that nearly burns off him, but Jimmy faces him without cowering in the slightest.

Another faint tickle of memory-- is it really memory?-- plays in the forefront of my mind refusing to fully reveal itself to me. But the delicate memory is shoved away when Brandon blocks my view of them by stepping in front of me.


I nod, though I can feel my eyes stinging. "He got Killer."

That makes Brandon pause. His dark brows mimic Henri's making him look very much like him for a second but for his blue eyes shining in concern in a way Henri's would never.

There's a movement on the dirt path near the village, and I glance up surprised to see the young man, Stephan, that we met while on our way into the village. Our eyes meet and he returns my look with a smile of overfilled relief. He walks over to me right away, past Henri and Jimmy like they're just regular people.

"You're okay."

I glance from Stephan to Brandon, surprised that he hasn't said anything about the stranger. Brandon doesn't even look bothered. He looks from me to Stephan before he introduces us.

"I know you've met already. Stephan is Kyrene's little brother." Brandon nods towards Kyrene who still stands a way off with Alex. "He sent the message to me and Henri that you were here."

Stephan shrugs. "Kyrene told me to. It wasn't a big deal. She said they would be looking for you. Why is she standing all the way over there?"

Brandon and I lock eyes before I finally find my own voice. "Jimmy was sure Henri or Brandon might kill Alex."

Stephan looks from Brandon to me with a curt little nod and a lopsided smile as if he could completely understand. "Right. Well, the inn has room for all of you tonight. Hard to say no to the leader of the Southlands, but still. No bloodshed please. My reputation is on the line here."

Next Chapter -->


  1. As I was reading this, the thing that sprung to mind was "butterfly effect". There were so many things that could've ultimately affected the outcome (and I guess could still alter it) and something as simple as Paula willingly agreeing to go along with Alex, had a dramatic effect on the ultimate outcome.

    Kudos my friend, this is a great chapter (just like all the others ;)

  2. Awww, those baby pictures! (I'm curious about the electricity in the first one though - I think I've seen that before in one of these and not known what it was.)

    This was quite a tense meeting. I'm glad to see her going along with it (whether true or not - and Brandon seems to know the truth) might help them sort things out.

  3. Poica, thank you! Yes, that's it exactly. It is like the butterfly effect. The demonstration of willing on Paula's part is the most obvious example of that.

    Thank you again. :D

    Laura, yes, we have. I was going to link it at the end of the chapter. Oops. It's here. I'm linking to more than just the picture because of what seemed to trigger the memory and prompt the dream, lol.

  4. So it's looking like Paula may possibly be manifesting powers in some fashion. Possibly. Though, now I'm curious as to why Brandon wouldn't of had any reaction to it. Even if it was just a random memory, he had to of to caught something from it. So Stephan is Kyrenes brother? How interesting, though I do find his lack of concern for Alex, and concern for his reputation quite amusing.

  5. Morning, Migy! :D

    That's one way to look at it. But no, not Paula's power. It's actually the answer to a question I think a couple of people have asked so far, but most let it go or possibly aren't even thinking about it.

    Stephan's not concerned. At least not here. Alex may still have to be careful if he's left alone though, lol.

  6. I was going to ask about the electricity too but you answered that already.

    That shot with her and Henri? was cute! It depicted a silence love. Something you don't see too much in or, or any other emotion for that matter.

    Am I wrong for hoping no harm comes to Alex? Might be the parent in me and knowing I would have done the same for my son.

    I love that Brandon embraced her. He'll make a great leader.

  7. Well, I wasn't really thinking of the electricity having anything to do with her power, but some kind of psychological type ability for her. The way it looks, the electricity probably has to do with Henri's power/abilities.

  8. Oh, I'd forgotten about the electricity being in another chapter! It was a long time ago, I guess. My first thought would have been that it was something to do with Paula's power but it seems it's not that. Hmmm.

    If I was Alex, I would be pretty worried right now, with the rage Henri is giving off at the moment. I feel like Henri might know exactly how things really went down.

  9. Ah hah! Henri didn't know about Jimmy and Alex's little plan. And I have a feeling he's more than aware of the real deal of what happened. He's not the leader of the Southlands for nothing. I'm thinking Alex should tread lightly with Henri and Brandon if he wants to stick around with his daughter and no doubt he won't be over for dinner anytime in the near future. I'm kind of ambivalent about him now. I know he did what he did for his child but still...

    As for Jimmy, well he's family and Henri will eventually forgive him, even Brandon but I have a sneaking suspicion that Jimmy is going to be on the hot seat for a while too.

    I'm glad Paula made it back 'home' Lunar but what's next? LOL I am so greedy for more aren't I?

  10. I can understand why Henri and Brandon would be angry with Alex but ... what he did, it was a very human thing to do; wanting to save his daughter so this proves that there is humanity in them after all even if they do hide it under all that tough exterior.

    I do wonder, would Henri and Brandon have even paused to ask Alex what he was thinking first before killing him ... and would they have killed him in front of his daughter had Paula not agreed to what Jimmy asked her.

    This chapter made me think of something I read recently. It's a novel by an Australian author. In the story, one character can't understand why humans are capable of treating each other with such hate, killing, maiming, treating their enemies like property and another character responded saying that it's because they've ceased to see their enemmies as human.

    It makes me wonder about Henri's 'people' and whether they see people like Paula as no longer human.

    Not sure if I made sense there!

  11. Qui, yes, a silent something at least! It's possible it a love of some sort. We know Henri probably did care for Cheryl very much, and so he possibly cares for Paula as an extension.

    Ha, no you aren't. I'm glad someone still cares for Alex. Also Brandon, goodness I love him, lol!

    Migy, ooh, well you actually may not be wrong about Paula's power then. That's one thing I won't refute, but I don't foresee a clear answer ever coming out in the text.

    Carla, it was a while ago. Heh, oops! There are other hints too. Nope, not Paula's.

    Alex should be worried. If he's smart, he's not going to let himself be alone with Henri. Though... oooo that might make an interesting writing exercise!

    Thanks for that inspiration, Carla.

    Velvet, nope, Henri didn't know, and did not approve it. And I doubt he would have ever approved it! Also, funny you mention Alex sticking around...

    It's interesting to me that you're ambivalent towards him now though! I'm rather torn on him myself. Both ambivalent and also still in his corner. Maybe someday he will be able to prove himself again.

    LOL! I love it though, Velvet! We still have a little more to go, possibly one more chapter and an epilogue. And then, OMG, I have so many short stories to tell! So. Many.

    Carnaxa, yeah! So true. It is a very human thing to do. That's sort of Alex though. He's not a tough guy the way Jimmy and Henri are.

    Oh that's another good question. Oddly, I see Henri would have listened to what Alex has to say. Brandon though, interestingly, I see him not. Wow, that's surprising. (But I think Brandon would recognize that he wouldn't be fair to Alex so he'd keep away. Still, wow Brandon! He always surprises me.) But I don't think either Henri or Brandon would have killed him out right, right there.

    Wow, yes, I think that's so true. I think Henri's people and Paula's People have both stopped seeing the other as humans. I think it's one of those things we as humans do for survival. Grouping "us" and "them" and then degrading them to the point where we don't feel bad doing what we feel is necessary. Which may not even be necessary!

    It's like some really primitive survival mechanism. Wow, a lot to think about! Thanks, Carnaxa.

  12. So Alex is being protected for his part. True, he was the one who kidnapped Paula and coerced her into coming but I still get the impression that Jimmy was the true mastermind behind his whole thing, that he found the right buttons to push to convince Alex to go along with it.

    Jimmy's urging of Paula to agree that she was willing and her realising that even if Alex had agreed to take her back then Jimmy would have stopped them, seems to lend support to that theory.

    Touching reunion with Brandon and Paula. As much as I'm sure he wants to listen to Jimmy's explanation, he goes first to Paula to make sure she is okay.

    I remember the electric man outside Paula's window. I also remember the shot of her being held by a toddler by a man whose face we couldn't see (was that in Cheryl's story?) and wondered at the time if the man who held her was Henri. Looking at these new shots, it seems that the electric man is someone close to them because he is standing next to Henri as he holds the toddler Paula. If Henri had thought him a threat there's no way he would have let him get so close.

    I wonder who he is??

  13. Judi, I'm glad you do get that impression. Maybe Alex was the one who kidnapped her, but Jimmy is stepping forward here and pushing Alex back. So Alex is being protected.

    Aw, yeah you're right. I didn't even think about the fact that Brandon chooses to make sure Paula's okay over hearing the story.

    Ooh, he wasn't outside her window in that entry. It was a memory she had right as she was waking up that disturbed her. She's been plagued with these memories in this second part since going to stay at Henri's, so the memory is less about the electrified man and more about the one who is holding toddler Paula.

    Also, you are very right. If Henri had thought that person a threat, there is no way he'd have let him get so close.

  14. Normally, this is the type of story that I read. But you drew me in and now I am waiting for the next update.

  15. This is such a challenge to read. I can't find a place to put my empathy! It's like I'm wandering around watching these people and uncertain what to think.

    If they killed Alex, why wouldn't they just kill his daughter, too?

    Paula is so removed from everything. She did agree that technically she went with Alex willingly, but I'm not sure she would care much if they did kill him.

    Fascinating writing!!

  16. Wow, thanks Oasis. Blogger doesn't let you edit comments, so I assume you mean this isn't the sort of story you'd normally read, and if that's the case, then that's a compliment. Thank you!

    SB, I know. I'm probably racing to the finish line myself right now, and I'm trying not to! But I do think you're right regarding Paula. She is rather far removed, but she's been walking for days, she's seen Jimmy gut someone right in front of her. She's exhausted and so far out of her element here.

    I don't imagine she wouldn't say something. Not that she'd have to. Surprisingly, Jimmy is the one who has Alex's back since he's the one who really made him do this.

    But Henri and Brandon wouldn't really kill Alex. Carnaxa made me think about it above, and it comes down to the "who would squish the bug" question I asked the characters a while back. (Sorry to Alex, lol.) Henri would actually listen. Alex isn't a threat to him even if he wouldn't approve.

    Brandon would probably fight (not necessarily actually kill). But still, he'd realize that he wouldn't give Alex a fair chance, so he'd keep his distance.

    Thank you Beth!

  17. Holy crap! I totally missed TWO chapters--I just read your Epilogue, and didn't even know about this chapter until I looked at Stephan's profile! Apparently I kept dropping off the face of the earth and missed when you'd posted these! I think I must have read 44, and missed 43!

    That memory that Paula has is intriguing--I wonder if Henri was protecting her from something or exposing her to something?

    Stephan's ease and ability to be completely open and genuine has to be a strange quality in such a place.

    I still can't believe I missed this chapter, and then a few weeks later missed the Epilogue. Good grief, my head is just...not on!

  18. I don't know, but I do think this chapter is about when I started just updating without cross posting to any story threads. I don't advertise anywhere, and so if you were used to looking at my thread to be notified, I'd guess that's it. I think 44 I mentioned in twitter, but this one I didn't. Same with the epilogue.

    Ooh, interesting twist to the memory. I was wondering if I'd ever get to it, and I don't know if I will. I'm sure it'll come out when it needs to.

    Stephan is probably a nice breath of fresh air after everyone with their secrets and all the stuff they hold back from her.