We did what I said we would. We set up camp and started a fire. In spite of what I wanted they were on my mind all night. Never has Toby just completely disobeyed either Seth or me. And Thomas! As much as I understood his feelings, he was the Crown Prince. He was to be king. Recently, I had been impressed at how mature Thomas was, but now? I vowed to be calm when we spoke in the morning. For now, I couldn't even look at them! Their age difference was surprising. Toby was ten! Thomas was in the last year as a teenager. Nine years! It would be similar as Christian and I did something to disobey our father. Seth and I didn't speak to each other about it. We knew it would set us both off. Hell, I was setting me off! My mind would think about how reckless it was and suddenly I didn't want what was in my hand and tossed it away in frustration! If I didn't have something there, I'd pick something up and then fling it! I found myself wishing Demetrius were here. I wanted him to just pop them both back to A'Dore. But he couldn't.
Seth went the other way and just stewed in it. He was a silent, boiling mass. I felt he could explode at any moment.
We didn't sleep that well. I knew I wouldn't. Then I felt Seth turn over to face me and without saying a word, put his arm around me. As messed up as the situation was, we would face it together.
Both Seth and I needed the coffee in the morning. Not really hungry, I made myself eat something. The two boys were watching us and just waiting for something. Even Max. Val, Reese and Beau were quiet that morning. It was Max that spoke first.
“What do you want us to do?” He asked Seth and me.
Seth looked at our son and nephew. “I don't know.”
Speaking calmly I asked them. “What did you think we would do?”
Thomas shrugged. “See it was too late and accept it.”
“You're forcing us to do that.” Seth pointed out.
“We've invested too much time to turn back now.” I said. “We would lose even more time if we took you back to Royal Valley and threw you back through the mirror.” Then I could picture both their parents' agony. “Have you thought about what this means to Ella and Christian?”
Seth nodded. “We trusted them with your care, Toby.” He said.
Toby nodded. “I know.” He said. “I know their upset...”
“Do you?” I interrupted sharply. “There are so many emotions they are going through now. What did you tell them?”
“We left a note,” Thomas said weakly.
“A note.” Seth repeated. “You did precisely what we said you couldn't.”
Thomas rose. “But Uncle Seth, I want to help! It's my kingdom they're threatening.”
I nodded. “Both your father and I explained why you couldn't.” I felt my anger surface again and forced it down again.
“That's not fair!” Thomas shouted. “If Dad wanted to, he would have come!”
That really bothered me. “No,” I stated flatly. “He wouldn't.” I began moving closer to Thomas. “He denies himself so much because of who he is.”
“Fair!?” Seth shouted back. “Who told you life was fair? It most definitely is not fair!” He took a breath and stopped, forcing a calmness I couldn't see on his face. “Was it fair when my mother was killed to create a vacancy on the throne? Was it fair that I couldn't even remember her? Was it fair I was so scarred by that fire I shunned by everyone? I will tell you now. Life is not fair!”
“Was it fair that the only reason Seth and I were married, was due to a law two centuries in the past?” I asked. “Was it fair to tell us and the many others that love someone are told they can't? We are two grown adults! We knew what we wanted and were willing to do it. How was that fair?”
“Dad,” Toby began. Whether it was because of his hearing loss, his tone was soft. “I didn't want to go against your instructions.” This time, I saw moisture in the corners of his eyes that were turning red. “I know I can help you!” He did a shrugging nod. “Can you do it without me? I'm sure you can.” He shook his head. “You wanted to protect me by making me stay behind. You are afraid you will lose me. I'm afraid of losing both of you!” Now, the tears were coming. “I would be nothing without the two of you. Dead, probably. Dennis, too, but you saw me as more than a deaf and dumb mute. You believed in me and taught to believe in myself.” He shook his head. “I owe you my very life. I couldn't let you go without me.”
We had been honest with Toby all his life. We taught he had challenges we would face as a family. Yes, this was my son! He was our son. His tears were breaking my heart.
“Please,” Toby said. “Don't be angry. Please?”
Many times I saw the man he trying to become. Now, I saw the little boy we saw on the floor of that hotel room where we met him. I wasn't stupid. He was playing on my weaknesses. I sighed walking toward him. “I am angry.” I hugged him tightly and then held him away so he could see my face. “I'm angry at you.”
Seth came behind us and hugged us both. Toby was sandwiched between us. “I'm angry, too.” He said it so Toby could see. He nodded, “I'm angry with you.” When Toby was about to speak, Seth stopped him. “I understand, but I'm still angry with you.”
I turned quickly to my nephew. “And you...” I said pointing my finger at him and shaking it. Scolding him like a child was what he needed. “I never thought you would or could be this irresponsible!” I held my hand up. “I don't care whether you think it is or isn't fair.” I waved back at Toby. “You brought your cousin...your ten year old cousin?”
Thomas' eyes widened. “I what!?” He shook his head. “No, I didn't bring him with me. He came.” He waved at Toby. “I did bring him to get me a horse in Royal Valley.” He gave angry glance at his cousin. “It was day three when he caught up with me.”
“Yet,” Seth said. “Here you are!” He waved at the two of them. “You didn't take him back.”
Thomas nodded. “I knew Mom and Dad found note by then. He threatened to tell Dad everything.”
I nodded. “Which should have been an indicator to you, not to do this.”
“I messed up!” Thomas shouted as he nodded smacking himself in the head. “I didn't think.” He looked at me. “How do I show the people I can do the job without this?”
“You do the job well!” I shouted back. “That's how.”
“You did it!!” Thomas said firmly. He was angry now. “By the time you were my age you had two victories. Two of the worst villains in Blethos were dead.” He pointed at me. “Because of you!” He was now pacing as he ranted. “All my life has been guided. Every single step laid out.” He turned to me. “Don't you see? I had to!”
Seth shook his head, “I wish you hadn't.” He looked at Thomas. “We include you...” he saw Thomas' face brighten. “Not so fast.” Now he was pointing at Thomas. “I want you to swear to us...I mean you say it out loud. If we tell you to jump or hide or anything, you do it!”
“I swear I will do exactly what you say.” Thomas swore.
I nodded. “It's not, but okay.” I shook my head. “Now, prepare yourselves.” I said to all including Max, Reese, Val and Beau. “I'm introducing someone special.” I looked at Toby. “Call Demetrius.”
“That won't be necessary,” Demetrius' voice came and he did appear in front us us. No shadows he crept from or wall to come out of. “I thought a more direct appearance was called for.” He shrugged.
I didn't have to look as I heard swords being drawn. Max knew of him. So, did Thomas but never saw him. Chitto had met him, but was startled by Demetrius' sudden arrival. I answered the questions as always assuring them he was on our side and not a demon. I would be explaining what he could do and what he couldn't later. He will help, but this was our fight and our victory or loss.
Demetrius put his hand on Toby's shoulder. “I was hoping he'd turn back, but...”
Seth was angry again, but not at Toby or Thomas. “You knew they were on the way?” He did the familiar flip of his hands up as he tried to understand. “You didn't think we should know?”
Demetrius shook his head. “Freewill, fate or whatever. They chose this path...”
Seth nodded. “I've heard it before.” Seth sat on a fallen log with a sigh.
Demetrius smiled at Seth. “And you've reaped the rewards.”
“That explosion was no reward.” Seth said.
“And not our doing,” Demetrius said again. “You know that.”
I walked closer to Demetrius. “I'm going to ask you,” I took a breath. “I know I lost that privilege. As a Human Being...” I pointed at Toby and Thomas. “You've done it before. Don't let them be harmed.”
Demetrius chuckled. “I already promised that.” He smiled at me. “Ella asked the same. I agreed.”
I now felt a lot better. “When did you tell them?”
Demetrius gave a waving shrug, “Well, technically Ella pleaded with Dara. It's going to be done by the three of us.”
I smiled. “You, Dara and Lukus?”
Demetrius looked at Thomas. “That doesn't mean you can't be hurt. I'm not making you invulnerable. If you thoughtlessly put yourself in harms way...I will let you get a scar or something as a reminder for next time.” He lifted his head and looked down at Thomas. “Do you understand?”
Thomas nodded quickly. “I understand.”
Demetrius clapped his hands together. “Now, for a treat.” He waved his fingers under his nose fanning something offensive away. “You all stink.” He waved his hand and a white tiled bathroom appeared. A lion-claw foot tub, a sink and toilet sat on the white tile floor. There were no walls. He chuckled. “I don't care, but if you want privacy, say that.” As he did, walls appeared blocking our view of the fixtures. He looked at me and Seth waggling his eyebrows. “There's room for two even.” He waved to Toby. “You first. There's hot water and clean towels ready for everyone.”
The bathroom in the middle of nowhere was nice. It was getting chilly, but still an acceptable temperature. No one was around now. I mean, no houses or farms. We were in unclaimed territory. We crossed several peaks on the pass. There were snowy peaks in the distance much higher, but the pass we needed would not take us there. Now, it was snowing gently and it was sticking.
“Gentlemen,” Chitto said softly to us. “We are not alone.”
We all looked around, in trees and on ledges. None of saw anyone. Chitto knew before, so we didn't doubt him.
“Do you know who?” Max asked.
Chitto glanced around. “By where we are, it could be Ute, or Arapaho.” Shrugging again he added. “It could even be a northern tribe of Kiowa. Even Apache.”
“Are those tribes nice?” Seth asked.
Chitto shrugged. “That depends on who's pissed who off.” He chuckled.
Perhaps it was because Chitto was also Aborigine someone appeared from the surroundings. He had the long hair and dark skin. What he was wearing was made of deerskin. There were marks on his face. He spoke to Chitto. All tribes share a language. Chitto said something back. This new man nodded and waved at his surroundings and spoke again.
Chitto smiled, “I was right. This is Ute territory.”