Pre Edit Count – 4,665 Words
Song I listened to for this chapter: You Found Me by The Fray.
Cain looks up at the sky, thinking. Finally he shakes his head to himself, making a decision and then turns abruptly to his son. He reaches into his vest and hands Jeb an object. He tells him, “It’s yours; I meant to give it to you for the last annual. Even if DG chooses me, I won’t do that to her.” And he walks off back towards the rest of the group.
Jeb opens the object to find it is Cain’s wedding ring. I meant to give it to you for the last annual. Jeb’s head snaps up to stare at his father’s retreating back. And he sees his left hand, there is not even a spot that is lighter than the rest.
Cain moves back to the rest of them and stops by Ambrose. He clasps him on the shoulder and just says, “Her choice?”
Ambrose looks him into his eyes, seeing some of the self-hatred he had seen earlier, gone. He nods, “Her choice.”
With that they all leave the Cain house.
The group is silent for the ride into the Guilds. Ambrose can’t help himself and comments, “Wow, I guess it doesn’t take as long to get here when you are not traveling in a big circle.”
Cain chuckles. “I should have known DG was not joking about that.” He had a huge laugh one of the nights in the camps, before Toto came to their group, when DG had been arguing with Glitch and how he couldn’t lead them. His sense of direction had lost them almost a whole day with walking in circles.
Ambrose wryly chuckles. “Unfortunately, she was not. But Glitch still was better than Airofday.” His face scrunches as he remembers the directions from her.
Jeb chuckles. He finally had to ask, “So I take it you kept walking in a circle?”
Ambrose laughs. “Glitch was glitching exceptionally well that day. He actually led DG in a huge circle. Which she pointed out to me and I argued. She then set me straight pointing out that the rock I had just tripped over was the same one I tripped over the first time.” His humor is evident as he remembers that day fondly.
Cain can’t help the humor in his voice. “It really is a miracle that you found me at all. Of course, now that I think on it,” He turns in his saddle to stare at Ambrose. “Can you inform me why you let her run at a bunch of Longcoats with nothing more than a stick?” His eyebrow raises at the end as he remembers that little detail from the day he had met his angel.
Az can’t help herself, “A STICK? How many were there?” She turns in her saddle to look at him.
Ambrose sheepishly answers, “A lot. I tried to tell her it was not our fight…”
Cain just stares at him and then sighs. “And knowing DG, she just ignored you.” He knows as well as the rest of them how DG takes being told that.
Ambrose’s mouth raises in a grin, “That was actually the moment that she grabbed the stick.”
Jeb is laughing. “DG, little DG, ran into a bunch of Longcoats with nothing more than a stick?” He can’t help it. The thought is just too funny.
Cain looks over at his son and sighs, his face still smiling. “Ain’t the last time she grabbed a stick to attack.”
Az is still shocked. “How did she ever live to even meet me?”
Cain straightens, “Because she is DG. Because she believes in people and will defend complete strangers. This, in turn, makes us stop looking the other way, and start working to make a difference.” He muses on it, remembering how much she had changed his mind, not by arguing with him, but by quietly doing what she thought was right.
Raw just states, “DG care so much, makes other care.”
The others nod, each remembering the extent of her caring and how it has changed their lives.
Before long, Cain raises his hand, both his and Jeb’s right hands close to their guns. “We are only seeking to find the end of the Old Road.”
A couple of the Guild members drop in and one of them demands, “Why you looking for that? Are you spies?” He jabs his spear at them.
Ambrose can’t help himself, “No, you little twerps. Just tell us where it is, we need to find someone.” He really hates the ankle biters.
Blue Head looks at them. “Only those that have hunted us in the past have looked for that.”
Cain looks up and thinks. He finally informs them, “The Grey Gale told us to go to the beginning of her journey. Once there, we need to cross over.”
Yellow Head jabs a spear towards Jeb. “Stories!” He shows his teeth at the younger Cain.
Blue Head is thinking however. He drops to the ground from the stump he had been standing on and walks over to Cain. “What was the beginning of the journey?”
Cain frowns. It has been too long since he had heard the legend. But then it dawns on him. “The Yellow Brick Road.” He remembers DG joking about it at one point.
Blue Head nods. “When you return, to go any further, you need to name the Guild that introduced itself to the Grey Gale first.”
Jeb asks, “Why are you helping us?”
Blue Head tells them, “It is the last thing that She told us. That there will come seekers, and to ask two questions. The Tin Man here answered the first, so by Her instructions, I told him what the next will be. Now that it has been told, we will never utter the words again.” He sounds proud that he is the one that is doing this duty, one that none of his line thought would ever be done.
Ambrose can’t help himself. “Great. Now if we forget, the words are lost.”
Cain frowns and quite bluntly tells him, “Ambrose. Enough. Whatever is wrong, we will talk about it once we cross over. I have a bad feeling and we need to move quickly.” He found himself feeling jittery. The last few times he felt this way his DG had been in trouble.
Ambrose just looks at him and nods. He crosses his arms as he waits for them to move. He can’t really tell them what is wrong; he just has a feeling that everything is about to change. And he does truly love DG.
The group moves through the trees, and they eventually make their way into an area that looks like something had been destroyed.
Cain looks around and asks, “What happened?”
Blue Head sighs. “The Witch came back and destroyed the house that had once held her sister imprisoned. She also destroyed the Guild that lived here and their houses. All the remaining Guilds watch this area. This is also where the last slipper came across.” He nods to the remains of a house that is not as overgrown as the rest.
Jeb moves closer to Az. Blue Head had noticed, and told him bluntly, “We know who she was.”
Cain picks up on their word use. “Was?”
Blue Head looks straight at Az. “We know what happened. We have also heard how your sister saved you, destroying the Witch of the West for good. And while She didn’t tell us, we have our own prophecies that tell us you may bring back the one we cared for. Everything leading to that prophecy is coming true, so we trust it.” He nods again.
Cain nods as he looks back at Az. He never calls her Princess, and she is never upset with it, knowing why. “Az, what do you need?”
Az thinks and tells everyone, “Anyone not wanting to slip over to the other side, needs to remove themselves. Cain, the horses can’t come. I am not sure how we will land and I do not want to risk them getting hurt.” She watches him, knowing he is as attached to his horse as she is to hers. And she actually knows why.
Blue Head motions his men forward. “When you come back, we will have them ready for you. Good luck, Tin Man.”
Cain rests his hand on Silver’s neck. The horse reaches back and snuffles his head. Cain nods and quickly removes his pack from the back. He looks over at Blue Head, “Be careful with the saddle. It is specially made.” It is made for either one rider or it can be adjusted to make it useful for two. Cain had it made while he was gone, hoping that he would have the chance to use it one day. When they returned, Ambrose or he will need it.
Blue Head looks into his eyes and nods. The rest of the Companions had retrieved their things, Az being the other sentimental one with Alric.
Lars flies down to Az and looks her in the eyes. She nods and it takes off. She turns to Cain, “He will keep an eye out for us. He mentioned that he would not be welcomed there anyways.”
Cain nods, anxious to get over there to his DG. He will feel better when he can protect her.
The group gathers around Az and she waits. When she is sure that the Guild members have had enough time to move out of the way with the horses, she calls a travel storm. None of them can help the jerking as electricity shoots through them and then they are all falling as the storm descends upon them.
The trip to the other side is smooth, and they drop into a field. Az quickly turns and dissipates the storm behind her. Then she promptly drops from exhaustion, Jeb catching her. He looks at her, worried, but she tells him, “Just need a second, Jeb.”
Cain staggers, only he and Jeb had kept to their feet. He quickly looks around, noticing a farm house not far. His eyes widen as he recognizes DG’s childhood home from the pictures she had drawn at night.
He looks back at Jeb after making sure everyone is ok. “Jeb?”
Jeb quickly picks up the Princess, nodding to his dad.
Cain turns and moves toward the farm house. He passes by some windmills and notes that they remind him more of the architecture of Finaqua than anywhere else. Before he reaches the actual house, he notes the shimmer of another bubble around it.
They all halt, staring at it. From afar, it looked like the house was uninhabited. If they had not encountered one of the bubbles before, they wouldn’t have realized what is in front of them now. Az is standing by herself; however, Jeb is not taking a chance and has his arm around her.
Cain only hesitates briefly. Then he moves confidently through the bubble, not surprised when he hears his name, only moving faster as he hears the fear, ‘Cain!’
He hits the porch running and without pause, runs through the door and up the stairs. He can feel DG, and the pain she is in, even better now. He runs through the door and up the stairs. He slides to a stop, his eyes going to the bed.
His heart stops for a second not seeing her there, then his eyes scan the room and with a strangled cry, “DG!” He moves to her side on the floor.
He picks her up in his arms and her eyes flutter open, “Cain?”
He smiles, “Hello, Sweetheart. Why are you on the floor?”
DG manages a slight smile, “Reminded me of our adventures.” She moans as she tries to move. “Great, now I seem to be matching songs.”
Cain carefully picks her up, moving her to her bed. Before he can figure out how he is going to move the blankets, Ambrose is pulling them back. Cain nods his appreciation and gently places her on the bed.
DG opens her eyes again, pain evident in them. “Cain. You came for me.” Then her eyes move. A smile shows on her face, “And you brought Glitch.”
Cain and Ambrose smile. Ambrose tells her, “We brought more than us; Az, Jeb and Raw are all here, Doll.”
DG’s smile gets bigger. Then it falls. “Why?”
Cain’s eyes harden as he realizes the spell is still working and that is what is causing this question. His eyes meet Ambrose’s and he sees the same thing in his brother’s eyes. But Cain’s voice is nothing but gentle as he tells her, “Now, you don’t think you can just disappear the night I come back and I wouldn’t come for you?”
DG manages to smile, then she jerks in pain. Luckily, Az, with Raw and Jeb right behind her, runs into the room. Without a second thought, Az runs over and hugs DG. “Deeg! Oh great Ozma, have you had us worried, little sister!” Then she felt her jerk in her arms and she pulls back. “Oh, Deeg.” Her voice soft.
Looking at her sister, you can see the puzzlement in DG’s eyes about why they are here.
Raw moves Ambrose to the side and reaches out to DG. He closes his eyes as he lays his hands on her. His eyes fly open and he looks to Az. “Need help, Az. DG drained too far.”
Cain’s eyes are anxious as he watches them. Here he is, and yet DG is still in danger, this time from herself.
Az nods, Jeb coming up behind her to support her if needed. She grabs DG’s hand and Raw puts his hand on DG.
Not sure if it is a trick or not, he can see a faint yellow glow around their hands and then he blinks. His son’s hands on Az are glowing also. He wonders, but before he can say anything, he can feel the pain in DG lessening.
He had been unaware of the depth of her feeling of pain until it had lessened; he had pushed it to the side in his urgency to reach her. It was not the first time he had done that, nor will it be the last.
Before long, he can hear DG’s breathing even out and realizes she is sleeping. Az and Raw both slump in exhaustion. Ambrose puts his hand on Raw’s shoulder, supporting him.
Raw looks up with gratitude. “Az and DG need to rest.”
Ambrose raises an eyebrow, “It looks like you need to rest as well.”
Cain tells them, “We all need to rest. Ambrose, we will need to keep an eye on Raw and DG. Jeb, you can handle your Princess, right?”
Ambrose looks at Cain and, making a decision, says, “I will keep an eye on Raw. You stay here; keep an eye on DG.”
Cain searches his eyes and tells him, “It’s still her choice, Ambrose.”
Ambrose just simply answers, “And it will be.” He helps Raw stand. “Trust me, Cain.” With that, he helps Raw down the stairs. He opens a door he finds on the first floor, and finding a room, helps Raw inside. He helps him lay down on the bed while he himself sinks into a chair, limbs sprawled everywhere.
Raw looks at him, “Ambrose brave. Admit that he knows.”
Ambrose looks over at him, sadness written on his face. “It has always been him, hasn’t it?”
Raw sighs as he sits up. “DG help heal Cain. Now Cain is going to help heal DG.”
Ambrose closes his eyes. “I would have done anything for her.”
Raw shakes his head, “Not anything. You would not stop this from happening.”
Looking up, Ambrose shakes his head. “I love her too much for that. And care too much for Cain.” He sighs, finally asking, “Did I ever have a chance?”
Raw cocks his head to the side as he thinks. “If past had not happened? No one knows. Life Mates rare, not much known.” He looks into Ambrose’s eyes. “Remember what Grey Gale, say. There be one for you, Ambrose. And you be needed to heal DG.”
Ambrose’s eyes snap as he answers a little coldly, “Raw, you think I would deny DG anything? No matter what happens, I love her.”
Raw smiles. “Good. DG need her Glitch.”
Ambrose closes his eyes. “And she will always have her Glitch. Raw, sleep. You talk more than Glitch ever did.” He hears a chuckle and then silence. He glances up, wishing and hoping that the two people he loves upstairs can heal each other.
Cain watches as everyone exits the room. He resists the urge to lock the door, knowing that they will be wanting to check on the woman who is sleeping. Plus if she needs them, he doesn’t want to impede anything that will help her.
Moving to the wall where he can keep an eye on her, while having the windows and stairway in his view also, Cain slides down the wall. Staring at the woman he loves, he just lets himself rest, his head against the wall.
After a couple of hours of the odd rest he is doing, he is distracted by the sun rising. He just stares as one sun, bigger than their own two, rises in the east. As the light enters the room, Cain is startled to see the O.Z. in pictures all over the room.
A memory surfaces of her bewildered on the Old Road, saying she had dreamed of this place. And the proof is on the walls in front of him, everywhere actually. You can see the progression of talent over the years and it frankly amazes him. He knew before that she drew; she had drawn on the quest of this house. But to see the full scope of her talent; it awes him.
Then he heard DG moan and he is by her side in an instant. “Princess?”
DG opens her eyes and tells him, “Can’t call me that here, Cain.”
He smiles, “And why not?”
DG turns her head away.
Cain frowns. It starts now. “DG?”
She sighs. “It’s a term of endearment here, Cain. People would get the wrong idea.”
Cain’s hand reaches out and he gently turns her head back to him, “Maybe I want them to get the wrong idea.”
DG’s eyes get larger, and she stammers, “C-Cain?”
Cain smiles down at her. “Deeg?” He watches as she fights the spell, knowing that losing her is not an option. Not after last night. He gently tells her, “Sweetheart, get used to it. I think you have the wrong idea about a lot of things. By the way, what you did to the Papay fields is breathtaking, Darlin’.”
DG looks embarrassed and she looks away from his compelling eyes. She can hear her mind telling her, He will hurt you. You took away Adora and made his son grow up without him. You need to finish healing the O.Z. to be accepted. They are only tolerating you. You-
Cain could feel her pain growing and he frowns. He quickly tells her, “DG!” When her startled eyes flash to his, he smiles at her. “C’mon. You need to eat, and we need to talk to you.” When she just stares at him, he sighs and picks her up in his arms.
Shocked, DG asks him, “Cain, what are you doing?”
Cain chuckles. He gently corrects her, “Wyatt. I know you can say it. Call me Wyatt. It gets confusing sometimes with everyone calling out Cain, especially with Jeb here. And I am taking you downstairs so we can get you some food, and talk with you.” During this speech, he has gone down the stairs, passing Ambrose who is chuckling also. He can’t help it, the look on DG’s face is priceless.
Ambrose tells them both, “Good morning. I found the nurture units and they had an overload from the transport over. They are both fine and Emily is making us all breakfast. Hank is outside turning on the grid.” Then his eyes flick to Cain’s, “The bubble is gone.”
Cain nods and moves into the kitchen. He settles her in a chair and sits down next to her, Ambrose on the other side.
DG stares at both of them, lost. But before she can ask anything, Emily deposits cups of coffee in front of them and the rest of the group gathers. Soon enough, everyone is eating and joking around. DG just stares at the group, trying to figure out why they are here. But every time her mind starts to tell her why they will hate her, Cain interrupts it.
Finally, breakfast is done and cleared off the table. DG stares at them all and finally asks, “Okay, why are you all here? And how did I get here?”
Az sighs. She looks at DG, and holds out her hand. Cain is sure that DG didn’t even think about not grabbing it; it is ingrained in her now. “DG. I don’t even know how to start.”
Ambrose doesn’t hesitate. “DG, we know about Tutor.”
DG’s eyes widen. She tries to scramble up out of the chair but Cain quickly pulls her into his lap and wraps his arms around her. She fights him. “Cain, I have to get away. He will hurt you!”
Cain tucks her under his chin and soothes her, “Shhh, DG. Tutor is not going to hurt me. And I told you: call me Wyatt. I know you can do this. Just try it out.”
The rest of them grin, knowing Cain is taking her mind off what is frightening her and doing what he has been doing the entire time.
Ambrose is lost. He has no idea how Cain is doing what he is doing. At first he was confused, Cain would just start talking to her and she would have this lost look on her face. After a while, he realized what Cain was doing. Every single time the Whisper Spell tried to push her away, Cain interrupted it.
What Ambrose is lost about, is how he is doing it?
DG rolls her eyes and just looks up at him.
Cain can’t help the ghost of a smile. “Darlin’, no one will answer your questions until you can say my name.”
Sighing, DG finally says, “Fine, Wyatt.”
Az couldn’t help it. She starts laughing. DG gives her a dirty look, and it only serves to make Az laugh harder. When she finally calms down, she glances at Ambrose. “I am shocked you don’t find this funny. How many times did it take for you to get her to say your name?”
Ambrose grins, “About a couple hundred times. But that was better than…” His smile fades.
Jeb asks, “Better than what?”
A small voice answers him, “Tutor. Or Toto. I still can’t call him by his right name, only because-” Her voice stops.
Jeb can see the tightening of his father’s jaw and the other reactions of the men around her. He growls out, “Because why, DG.”
All of a sudden, he is hit with her blue eyes. They look lost and insecure mostly, but right now, her pain and betrayal are evident.
Jeb moves over to the woman he thinks of as his sister. He drops in front of her and his father, softly telling her, “DG. No one is going to hurt you anymore. None of us will allow it.” Then he grins as his eyes flip up to his father’s and down, “Especially not my dad. But we need to work to get you better. Trust us, Deeg.”
Cain’s arms have tightened around her and he tells her, “DG. What you have been thinking is not true. We don’t blame you for the Witch. Never have, never will.”
DG had panic set in as the Whisper Spell tries to block this from happening. Cain quickly gets up and carries them into the living room. He realizes this is it. This is when they work to heal her.
Ambrose follows them and perches on the arm of the chair she is sitting in. When he realizes she is fighting what they are saying, he gently grabs her face in his hands, not thinking. “DG. Listen to me. I don’t blame you for the Witch. I could never blame you for the things I love more than anything about you: your compassion and curiosity. You were eleven years old, DG.”
DG just stares at them, then tells them, “It’s because I am drawn to the dark.”
Az kneels besides her. “Deeg, you weren’t the only one who heard her. You heard her first, but I could hear her too. And she didn’t grab for you when you ran; she grabbed me. For a reason.”
DG starts to cry. “But if I hadn’t gone chasing after the sound, the Witch would have never been released. If I hadn’t let go of your hand…”
Wiping her tears, Ambrose again steps in, “And if I hadn’t paid attention to you, you would have never known of your mechanical aptitude, which in turn helped you with your concentration in your magical studies.”
Az picks it up, “If I hadn’t ignored the child, then who knows. If I had been better at my lessons, I would have been able to read the old language. Deeg, we can sit here all day playing what if. Here are the facts. I am the sister drawn to the dark and that is why the Witch grabbed me, not you. She could have easily grabbed you. She was focused on you to make you let go my hand, the minute you did, she had me, not you.”
Az drew herself up. “Deeg, you were never to blame. Tutor was wrong to blame you, but he was urged down that route. The Witch wanted a betrayer, and not able to turn anyone or even given the ability to plant any doubts in any of your companions, she made one. But at the same time, he betrayed everyone.”
DG just turns into Cain and he holds her. He softly tells her, “DG, it’s not your fault. None of it ever was. I seem to remember telling you the same thing before.”
Deeg feels like she is being assaulted and tries to hide, but then Cain tells her, “We love you, DG. We came for you, needing you to be whole.”
She looks up at him surprised. Love her? But then the voice in her head thunders through. And without consciously thinking about it, she flickers out of Cain’s arms and is running outside.
Az just stares after her. “I wonder who exactly taught her that spell.”
Cain didn’t even hear her as he ran out after her. Ambrose just sits there.
Jeb turns and looks at him. “Aren’t you going after her?”
Ambrose looks at him, “She loves him. They both have loved each other for a very long time.”
Jeb frowns. “I know he is my dad, but you have loved her since she was little. And she loves you too. Why are you not fighting for her? I thought you said it was her choice!”
Ambrose sighs. “Jeb, she already made her choice. Think on this. Cain has stopped the Whisper Spell every time it tried to activate while we were eating lunch. I never felt a thing.”
Jeb got into his face. “The Grey Gale said it would take both of you. This is my sister we are talking about. And I will be damned if she is not healed because you are unwilling to fight for her!”
Ambrose finally explodes. “I love her with everything I am!! Losing her when I thought she died is one of the most painful experiences in my life. It taught me that love and life are too precious to lose. Seeing Cain and knowing that he loves her more that any person I have ever seen love someone else, how can I stand in the way of that? Especially knowing she loves him the same! If she chooses me, it wouldn’t be because of anything but her running scared. That is not fair to any of us. We need those two together to face what is coming. I will love her no matter what. Always. You can’t just give up that type of love, even if I find my Life Mate. But maybe that is what is needed. The rest of us are basically family, but whomever I Bond to, maybe they need that connection. I don’t really know. I just know I love her so much; I want the best for her.” Tears are in his eyes as he finally admits out loud that Cain is the one for her, not him.
The rest of them stare at him shocked. They had thought he had just given up, not that he had really thought this through.
Popsicle leans back in his seat. He finally asks, “What happened to her? She would take blame for things, but not like this.”
Jeb is still picking his jaw off the floor, so Az answers, “Whisper Spell.”
Momster and Popsicle both gasp. “Whisper Spell?”
And Ambrose looks up at them, “And Cain is going to break the spell.”
Final count, 4,728 words.