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Chapter Seventeen- Metal and Magic

Calda's house was in sight, and the three youths crouched to stay low. Naelen had a stern feeling in his gut as he creeped toward the house.

"We should stay quiet," he warned. "Last time I made too much noise."

Lila acknowledged him with a nod. "Where to, little brother?"

He gestured to the east side of the house. "There's an entry point over there."

Stealthily, they made their way to the side window and peeked in. When Naelen saw the female figure keeping watch, he ducked his head and ordered the others to do the same. He cursed under his breath. "So there is more than one. I know another way in."

Lila looked over to Damien. "May I borrow your sword?"

"Go ahead," Damien answered. "I think I'll sit this one out."

"You can be our look-out," she said. "If anyone approaches, just signal."

Damien nodded. "Alright."

Moving together, Lila and Naelen went to the backside of the house. When they came to the high window, Lila formed her hands to give him a boost. Grunting, Naelen sprang up to grab the ledge of the window sill and hoisted himself onto the landing. Inside he could see his father sitting next to Calda, both still against the locked door. Naelen signaled to grab their attention.

Kallus saw him and got to his feet. "We're in here, son," Kallus signaled. He helped Naelen open the window in order to slip through. "Did you bring help?"

"I brought Lila," Naelen answered, reaching down to help Lila climb.

Kallus was grateful to see her, and with a small weapon no less. He helped both his children land safely on the floor. His heart was overflowing with gratitude as they came into him for a hug. It was enough to make his eyes tear.

"Dad, you don't have to cry," Lila said. "We're okay."

Kallus wiped the small tear from his eye. "If I weep, it is to see how much you two have matured this last year. And to see you fit so well through that window."

They both giggled, pulling away.

"There is someone just outside this door," Lila reported. "I can take of her."

Kallus shook his head. "Leave this to me, Lila. Just let me have your tiny sword."

"It's not my sword," she corrected while handing it to him. "What do you need us to do?"

"I need you to stand back."

Kallus helped Calda to her feet and had her stand behind him with the others. The short blade in his hand separated his eyes as he held it.

Facing the door, he took in a deep breath. The air seemed to shift around him, filling with a sudden warmth. A light, pure magic lit up his hands. The blade of the sword began to glow red with heat.

The task was taxing on Kallus' body. Elemental energy always took its toll, but he persisted through the pain. By the end of his spell, a fresh rune appeared along the edge of the sword. It glowed hot with metal and magic.

Naelen and Lila marveled at it. Not many elves were gifted with the skill to create their own runes.

"Wow," Naelen said in awe. "Will you teach me to do that?"

"In time, son. Right now, I need you to be ready for the worst."

With a flash of the blade's rune, the door shattered into pieces of wood. The sound alarmed the woman sitting nearby. Turning, she saw Kallus stepping out from the pile of debris, clutching a child-sized sword in his hand.

The woman startled to her feet. She pulled a bone dagger from within her clothes, though her resilience was wavering by the moment. She had underestimated Kallus.

"Stay away from me," she threatened. "I have no problem stabbing you to death."

Kallus could have met her threat with violence, but he lowered his blade and spoke calmly. "What is your name?"

"You don't need to know that."

"What is your name?" he demanded, his tone shifting.

"It's Brisa," she said. "Don't come any closer."

"Brisa." He met her eyes. In them he saw desperation. "The other is your husband, I presume?"

"He'll be back any minute now," she said.

"Your husband is dead," Lila said from behind her father. They all waited as the tears came to Brisa's face, as sorrow overtook her.


This news came at a shock to Kallus. He glanced over at Lila as if to confirm her words. There was no lie in them. When he turned back to Brisa, he took a step forward. The movement caused her to extend her hand, grasping her blade tighter.

"You killed my sweet Brennan?" Her tears flowed steadily, shifting into anger. She came forward, but Kallus was quick to react. Her dagger flung out of her hand, slapping against the wall.

Brisa looked down at the sword now pointing near her chin. Her next instinct was to run. When she got to the front door, however, she found her path blocked by Damien.

"Who are you people?" Brisa cursed. She was now cornered and unarmed.

Kallus took a step forward. "We are friends of Calda," he said. "And you are trespassing."

"Please!" she begged. "We were starving and cold. The last storm buried our house."

"That does not give you the right to trespass. Look at Calda, now she is the one starving. She is the one who is cold. Justice will be brought to her."

"Please..." Brisa cowered. "No one was supposed to die. I beg of you, my lord! I will not come here again."

Kallus stood silent for a long moment. With a sigh, he lowered his weapon. "Outside you will find two sacks of provisions. Take them back with you and do not return to this village. It lies under my protection."

Brisa nodded gratefully. "Such mercy, my lord. Thank you."

Kallus averted his gaze. "Leave now."

Brisa scrambled out the door, picking up the goods that Kallus had purchased from the market.

When she was gone, Kallus faced Calda. The rims around her eyes were starting to look dark. "Come, let's get you fed." He retrieved her fur coat for her, wrapping it around her shoulders.

Without solicitation, Calda moved in to embrace him. "Thank you," she wept into his chest. "I was afraid I was done for."

"Not on my watch," he said. "My wife is no doubt worrying over all of us. Let's go home."

They all followed him as he moved out. Outside, the sky had grown pitch black and the snow was falling gently.

Kallus held the small sword up, admiring the look of its new rune. "Who does this belong to?" he asked. "It's certainly not one of mine."

Damien slowly took the sword and sheathed it. "It's mine," he said.

"Since when do you own a sword, Damien?"

"It was a gift," he shrugged.

"Dad." Naelen spoke up after a while. "You gave that woman all our goods. Even the ones you meant for Calda."

"Yes, I did," Kallus grinned at his son. "Are you upset?"

"I'm just confused. Why did you let the villain run off with them?"

"We give to those in need."

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