The two stood on the beach, watching the sun rise over the waters. Although the brightness of the day usually brought a sense of peace to them, this sunrise was different. For it marked the beginning of the end for them. The man found himself wishing with all his heart for time to stop, that the sun would rise no further, and they would stay frozen for all time in this one moment.. with her safely in his arms, never to be separated. But it was not to be... his arms tightened around her as the sun continued to slowly rise.
The woman, as if sensing his thoughts, turned to him. He looked down into dark, beautiful eyes and felt himself becoming lost in their depths. Usually filled with laughter, they were now somber - but her love for him still shone through.
"Hey... don't get all maudlin on me, captain. Or I'll have to do something and spoil this quiet, romantic moment," she whispered, trying to sound brave.
He joined her in a chuckle, then his face grew serious again. His hand traced her face, as if to memorize every detail, every nuance. She drew his face closer and they gently kissed.
As they drew apart, a slight buzz filled the air and a hooded figure draped in white appeared on the beach. "The others have all left. Only the two of you remain. It is time."
The figure's words struck panic in the man's heart. He looked back down at the woman and his mind suddenly filled with so many things he wanted to tell her.... but he found he couldn't put them all into words. For the umpteenth time, he cursed his inability to speak out loud all that he was feeling.
She smiled - a smile that went through his soul. "I know. Me too. Always remember that," she whispered. "And also remember, I'll always be with you in your heart.... if not in your memories."
He nodded and brushed away a tear that ran down her cheek. "And you remember... that one day, I will find you again. I don't care if our memories have to be taken away to keep us safe. I'll find some way to remember... and find you again. I swear it." His lips captured hers in a soul searing kiss that went on and on, filled with all the love they had for one another.
The kiss finally ended and she ran her hands softly through his sun kissed hair one last time. They both walked over to the figure waiting for them. "I'm ready..." the woman said softly. It nodded and placed a hand on her shoulder. The buzz in the air returned and the hooded figure and the young woman slowly began to fade out of sight.
The young man's sea blue eyes held hers, even as he felt his grip on her hands slowly fade until only their fingertips touched - unwilling to let that last little bit of contact slip away. But soon, even that faded and he was left clutching at the air.
She smiled through transparent tears and her gentle words echoed in his mind. "I love you... my sea captain... my Sinbad...."
Sinbad awoke with a start, his hands outstretched in front of him, an unspoken and already forgotten name on his lips. He sat up and let out a deep sigh, brushing his hands through his hair in frustration. It was the same dream. Again. Every time he had it, the sequence grew longer, the details became a little bit clearer. He wasn't even sure if he was dreaming or remembering something that had actually happened. And he could never remember the woman's face. Or her name. But he always woke up feeling like a part of him was missing... a big part of him. He got dressed and headed up to the deck. Maybe the sea air would help him....
When he got up there, Doubar met him with a hot mug. He grinned his thanks and looked around.
"We're almost at Brohmir. It'll be good to get some of this stuff unloaded and have a clear, uncluttered deck again," Doubar grimaced as he looked around at all the crates. Sinbad nodded, distracted by Bryn who was standing at the rail with a frown on her face. Doubar looked over at her too. "Something's bothering her, Sinbad. We were in the middle of talking and she suddenly got this look on her face and walked away...."
Sinbad frowned. It wasn't like Bryn to walk away in the middle of a conversation without saying anything. "I'll go talk to her..." he said quietly and went over to her. Doubar watched his little brother for a minute, then grinned. If anyone could find out what was bothering Bryn and put her back into a good mood, it was Sinbad. He went off to make sure the sails were secure.
Sinbad stood behind Bryn and looked around to see if he could see anything. Nothing but a beautiful clear sky and the Isle of Brohmir closing in on the distance. It was perfect sailing weather. He leaned towards her, resting his hands on the rail just outside hers, his chin almost resting on her shoulder. "It's a beautiful morning," he whispered.
There was no answer. He looked at her more closely. Though her head was still, her eyes were darting back and forth across the Isle in front of them. He put a hand on her shoulder and felt the tension. "Bryn?"
"Hmm? Yeah, Sinbad... 'm fine..." she absentmindedly mumbled. "It's just... something.. I don't know."
"What?" he asked gently.
"Every once in awhile, I feel something.... as soon as I think I have it, it disappears. It's like... it's trying to avoid me."
"Do you know what it is?"
She shook her head in frustration. "No. Just that whatever it is.... it's not friendly. And..." her voice trailed off as she suddenly noticed how close he was to her. She turned her head slightly and found his sea-blue eyes just inches from her. Suddenly, images from a recurring dream she kept having filled her mind. Sea-blue eyes, filled with love and regret... whispered words... "I'll find you again, I swear...".... feeling like she was being torn in half... "I love you... always..." ... losing something so precious.... so special...
"Bryn?... hey... You all right?"
Sinbad's worried voice brought her back to reality. "I'm ok..." she whispered as she shook her head and her eyes focused again. She looked up to see Sinbad looking down at her with concern. One hand gently caressed her cheek as his other arm was wrapped around her, supporting her. She smiled, trying to reassure him. "I'm fine, Sinbad. Just... I guess I'm a bit tired, that's all." She looked back out at the Isle, a frown returning to her face as she pushed the dream away. "And worried...."
Sinbad followed her gaze back to the Isle as he held her. A sudden sense of foreboding filled him and his arms tightened their hold on Bryn. Her hand found his and gripped it, seeking comfort.
"It's waiting for us, Sinbad. Whatever this thing is I'm feeling... it's waiting. On Brohmir."
A week later, Bryn shifted in her stiff chair and looked over at Firouz. He was still sleeping, his body trying to recover from the stress and exhaustion. The Nomad had docked in Creonis, the port village on Brohmir, to find that a small but deadly infection had broken out amoung the villagers. Luckily, Firouz had been able to contain and cure it before too many had died. Late yesterday, he collapsed from exhaustion and everyone had been taking turns sitting with him.
Bryn yawned. She was still pretty tired herself after collapsing a few days ago from the infection. Sinbad hadn't wanted her to take a shift, but she had insisted. It made her feel less helpless and it was something she could do to thank Firouz for helping her through it. She smiled sleepily as she remembered waking up after her fever had broken. The first thing she had seen was Sinbad, one hand holding hers to his face, the other gently caressing her forehead. She had felt his worry and... some deeper emotion, much deeper than what she usually felt from him. It had made her feel good, comforted... loved. She wondered, just a little bit, if it had been real; if maybe she had imagined it...
They sat on the beach, watching the high tide coming in. She leaned back into his chest and sighed, enjoying the feel of his strong arms wrapped around her, protecting her from the cool sea breeze.
"Happy?" his gentle voice whispered as he nuzzled her neck.
She chuckled. ""Uh huh... very...." she whispered back as she turned her head slightly and caught his lips in a kiss. After a long moment, they drew apart. His hand gently caressed her face.
"I love you, Bryn..."
Startled, Bryn sat bolt right, the dream quickly fading as she woke up. She let out a deep breath and frowned. The dream had seemed so real... almost like a memory. But the details eluded her now that she was awake. She looked over to see Sinbad kneeling beside her, a small grin on his face.
"Hey, sleepyhead..." he whispered quietly so as not to disturb Firouz.
She sheepishly grinned. "Hey yourself." She sat up and tried to stretch out her cramped muscles. "Must have fallen asleep..." she whispered.
Sinbad nodded, moving his hands up to her shoulders, gently working out the knots that had formed. "Well... you're still recovering too." He frowned. "You really shouldn't be up, Bryn. You still need to regain your strength..."
Bryn shook her head. "I'm fine, Sinbad. Got a little tired from sitting in the dark for so long. Just need to get out and get some fresh air." She had to try hard not to sigh out loud in contentment as his hands worked magic on her cramped muscles.
"Then let's get you outta here and into some sunlight," Sinbad whispered, taking her hand and helping her to her feet.
Once outside, they both squinted in the bright sunshine. Bryn closed her eyes and took a deep breath. The air was tinged with the smell of the sea and she smiled wistfully as she lifted her face into the breeze. She looked over at Sinbad who watched her with a smile on his face, a thoughtful look in his eyes.
"What?" she asked with a grin, wondering what he was thinking about.
"Nothing..." he replied with a chuckle. "Just thinking how good it is to see you up and around again." His eyes grew serious. "You gave me a scare, Bryn, when you collapsed..."
"I scared myself too.. I think." she replied with a grin. Suddenly, her stomach growled, and they both broke out in laughter.
"Sounds like your stomach is up. Come on, let's see if Doubar left us anything to eat at the inn," Sinbad chuckled. Bryn nodded as she laughed. The two of them walked down the main street, neither of them noticing that they were still holding hands.
As they approached the inn, Bryn almost plowed into Sinbad when he stopped walking. Looking up, she saw the village elders Krasis and Marianas. She shifted uneasily. For some reason, Marianas made her nervous. Maybe it was the look in her eyes when she stared at Sinbad, as if trying to read his soul. Or maybe it was the fact that her eyes were so dark, blacker than the night, and totally unreadable.
"Sinbad, I'd like to thank you for everything you and your crew have done to help this village. We owe you a great debt. How can we repay you?" Krasis asked as he shook Sinbad's hand.
Sinbad smiled and shook his head. "We only did what was right, Krasis. Any decent person would have done the same."
Suddenly, Marianas approached Sinbad, trying to touch him. Without thinking, Bryn gripped Sinbad's arm and pulled him back, away from the old woman. Marianas looked at her with dark, unreadable eyes, sending shivers down her back. She slowly reached for her sword.
"Bryn?" Sinbad whispered to her, not knowing what was going on, but trusting her instincts as he too reached for his sword.
Still holding Marianas' gaze, Bryn softly shook her head, a frown on her face. The emotions she felt from the old woman confused her. Not quite evil.... but not quite good either. She had the ability to be either depending on which half of her was stronger at a given time.
Marianas suddenly threw her head back and laughed. The sound sent a chill through Bryn's body, and she felt Sinbad stiffen and begin to move forward to protect her. The laughter stopped and Marianas looked back at them. Her eyes were wide and unfocused, seeing something only she could see.
A hush followed her words. Then her eyes focused again and she shook her head. She looked at Sinbad and Bryn and grinned a toothy smile. "Heed my words, for I am never wrong. They be my gift to you, for saving my home." She turned and walked away without a backwards glance.
Her words filled them both with unease and a chill flashed through Bryn. She looked over at Sinbad, her face deathly pale. "Sinbad... remember that feeling I had back on the Nomad. That something evil was waiting for us here..."
He nodded. "Yeah. I remember. You got it again?" he asked gently.
"Yeah. I got it. And it's stronger than before... it scares me, Sinbad. A lot." She stepped closer to him and she buried her face into his chest as his arms wrapped protectively around her. They stood like that for a long time, Marianas' words echoing in their thoughts.
"Two are one... two are one...." Those words continued to swirl in Sinbad and Bryn's minds for the remainder of the day. After a quiet lunch during which neither spoke much, Sinbad returned to the Nomad to oversee the provisioning while Bryn checked on Firouz and the others.
It was close to sunset when they all gathered at the inn. Firouz had regained consciousness earlier and had moved back to the inn with them. They all sat at a table near the corner, trying to decide what to do.
"I'm perfectly fine to travel. Why don't we just pack everything up and leave on the evening tide? We could still make it if we leave now," Firouz suggested, even as he struggled to stay awake.
Sinbad shook his head. "No, Firouz. You may be fine, but we've still got two other crew members who are in no condition to be moved. And I'm not going to leave them behind.... we'll just have to stay the night and see how things are in the morning." He glanced over at Bryn, sitting next to him, playing with her food. She looked up at him and nodded, not very happy about the decision but knowing there was no other choice.
"Well, I think I'll call it an early night. My head is still feeling rather fuzzy," Firouz said, getting up from the table.
Sinbad nodded. "Try and get some more rest. And Firouz..." The inventor looked back at Sinbad as he was climbing the stairs. "You did a good job helping the village with the infection." Firouz grinned and nodded his thanks as he disappeared up to the rooms.
After Firouz left, everyone got quiet, as both Sinbad and Bryn became lost in their own thoughts. "Come on, you two. Cheer up," Doubar said, trying to lighten the mood. "Maybe you're both just worried over nothing. Who's to say this Marianas isn't crazy? Nothing will happen tonight and we'll be outta here soon."
Sinbad gave his brother a look. "Well, if it happens, we'll deal with it. If it doesn't, then we get an extra night of sound sleep." He tried not to let his own sense of unease show in his voice. A feeling of dread had been building inside him ever since the encounter with Marianas and his thoughts kept going back to his dreams.
Bryn smiled wanly as she stood up. "I'm going to step out for a minute. Fresh air..." Sinbad watched her leave the inn. Then after a few moments, he decided to follow her. "Fresh air sounds good to me..." he said as he left the table.
Doubar and Rongar exchanged looks and then quietly went back to their ales. Their earlier good moods somewhat bated as Sinbad and Bryn's unease washed over them as well.
Outside, Sinbad found Bryn sitting on the stoop, watching the sun set over the ocean. The port was fairly quiet - not much was happening since people were still recovering from the infection. He sat down next to her and they silently watched as the sky battled the encroaching darkness with its brilliant colours; blazing red and orange hues against the deep indigo of the night. A lone seagull cried forlornly as it circled the darkening sky, searching for its companions or its mate.
"Beautiful sunset tonight...." he murmured.
Bryn nodded, not saying a word.
"Bryn.... have you been thinking about what Marianas said? Do you have any idea what she meant? Who she was talking about?" he asked quietly, needing to talk about what had happened.
She let out a deep sigh and shook her head. "No, Sinbad... I have no idea who she was talking about.... I've thought of nothing else but her words since she spoke. You?"
He grimaced and turned back to look out at the water. "I've thought of nothing else too. Her words hit something inside me.... especially the first part...."
"Me too. It felt... familiar.... somehow."
He nodded. "Yeah. And then with the dreams I've been having..."
Bryn raised her eyes and looked at him in surprise. "Dreams? What kind of dreams?"
Sinbad sighed and frowned, not sure if she would think it strange what he was going to say, but knowing he could trust her. And he felt a sudden urge to talk with her about them. "I don't know how to describe it, Bryn. I've been having these... strange dreams. Each time I have them, the details get clearer. I'm with someone.. but I don't know who. When I'm having them, it feels so real, but then I wake up and I can't remember them." He ran his hand through his hair in frustration. "They're almost like...."
"Memories..." Bryn whispered. It was his turn to look at her with surprise.
"Yeah. How did... Bryn... you've been having dreams too, haven't you."
She turned to him and nodded solemnly. "Yes. I have. Exactly like you described. I wake up and can't remember. But I feel... empty... inside."
"Like something... someone is missing..." Sinbad murmured.
They looked at each other as a thought suddenly crossed their minds at the same time. Could the other person in their dreams be... He reached out and gently cupped her face, his thumb running along her cheek. They both became lost in each others eyes, pulled into a stream of half remembered memories and blurred images. He slowly began to move his head towards hers.
A scream tore through the peace and brought them abruptly back to reality. The scream repeated followed by yelling. They both stood up as the door behind them flew open and Doubar and Rongar came running out. Momentary relief flooded Doubar's eyes when he saw Sinbad and Bryn. "Sounds like someone needs some help, little brother."
"Aye. Let's go..." he replied. As Doubar and Rongar ran past, Sinbad hesitated and looked back at Bryn. Before they had been interrupted, as their lips were about to meet, he had felt something... as if the answer to Marianas' riddle and his dreams were about to reveal themselves. He felt himself being pulled back, almost urgently, into the stream of memories and found himself gathering her into his arms.
The sounds of a scuffle and Doubar's voice yelling for them, slipped through the haze of their minds. "Sinbad, Doubar... and Rongar... need help... we'll have to... sort this out... later," Bryn whispered as she used every ounce of will power to reluctantly pull herself away from his embrace. She had no way of knowing that minutes later, she would so regret her actions....
"Yeah..." he mumbled, shaking his head to clear his mind.
"Sinbad! Bryn! What are you two doing?! We could use your help over here!" Doubar's bellow filled the near empty streets of the town. The urgency in his brother's voice cleared the remaining cloud from his mind. With one last lingering look of regret between them, they ran over to help.
Doubar and Rongar were fighting a small, but determined looking group of men. Bryn and Sinbad joined the fracas, evening the odds considerably. The fight didn't last very long after that. After Doubar picked one of them up and hurled him into the lot of them, their fighting spirit broke and they fled.
"You could have helped sooner, little brother. What kept you?" Doubar muttered as he watched the men hobble away.
"Sorry. Something... came up," Sinbad replied as he looked around. He suddenly noticed the slight form of a woman laying face-down on the ground. He hurried over to her, Bryn and the others at his heels. As he got to her side, the woman groaned and started to get to her feet. Sinbad knelt down on one knee and helped her to sit up. "Easy. You're safe now. You ok?" he gently asked.
The woman nodded. "Yeah... got a whopper of a headache, but I'll be fine." She ran a hand through her dark, softly curled hair, drawing it back from her face. She looked up at Sinbad and her eyes opened wide with shock. "Sinbad...?" she whispered as her eyes scanned his face.
He gave her a confused grin. "Yes. And you..."
The woman threw her arms around him and hugged him tightly. "It is you! Sinbad! I've searched everywhere for you...." she cried, her voice trembling with emotion. She drew back and her hands gently caressed his face. Dark brown eyes filled with tears. "I finally found you, my love... my Sinbad," she whispered as her lips caught his.
The others stared in shock as the young woman tenderly kissed Sinbad. He gently, but firmly pushed her back and stared at her in confusion. "I'm sorry... but I think you have me mistaken for someone else. I don't know you."
She looked down at his rainbow bracelet and then moved the sleeve up on her arm. He gasped as she laid her hand next to his, bracelet against bracelet. "No..." she whispered, laying her forehead against his. "You ARE my Sinbad, my lifemate. We're bonded, my love. Heart, soul, and spirit..." She looked into his confused eyes. "Please.. try and remember... it's me. Brianna. Don't you remember, my love? The isle where we met... we used to walk the beach hand in hand all the time. We sat for hours, just holding each other.... You promised, my love... that you would remember and find me again... Couldn't you hear me calling you?"
Images flooded Sinbad's mind as her soothing voice washed over him. Images of dark, beautiful eyes filled with love... soft words laced with unshed tears... "remember me..."... a kiss that took his breath away... feeling like he should be searching for someone... someone who was more precious to him than life itself.... a face, blurred and foggy...
He frowned. The face at the edge of his memory struggled to become clear. For a quick flash, it did, and Sinbad gasped. Wait! Was that..? But the image blurred again before he could be sure. He shook his head in frustration.
"Remember...." Brianna whispered as she once again brushed her lips against his.
Caught in a memory, he saw himself walking on a beach, hand in hand with someone... Heard himself whisper "I love you" and her reply. She turned to him... the blurriness wavered... and disappeared. And Sinbad found himself staring into Brianna's dark eyes.....
He pulled away and gasped. "It's you... you're the one in my dreams...." he whispered in shock.
Brianna's tears flowed freely down her cheeks. "Yes, Sinbad! It's me! You remember... oh, Sinbad, you remember!" she whispered as she rested her head against his chest.
Sinbad's arms automatically wrapped themselves around her, embracing her. His hand gently entwined in her hair as she cried softly in relief and joy. He looked over at Doubar and the others, still in shock that he had solved the riddle of his dreams and the woman who haunted them. Then he looked over at Bryn. She was pale and looking off in the distance. When she finally met his eyes, the pain he saw in them before she hid it cut right through to his very soul.
Bryn watched silently, feeling like she had just been kicked in the stomach, as Brianna sobbed in Sinbad's gentle embrace. Her heart felt like it was being squeezed in a tight grip. She looked away, unable to bear the sight.
"We should get inside, Sinbad. It's getting dark..." She heard Doubar's voice and looked back to see them getting to their feet. Brianna was leaning against Sinbad, and the two of them walked towards the others.
"Doubar, will you take her inside?" Sinbad asked, handing her over to his big brother. Brianna looked at him, doubt in her eyes. He smiled at her. "It's ok, Bri. This is Doubar. Remember? I told you about him."
Brianna smiled shyly at the big man and let him lead her away. Rongar looked over at Sinbad then Bryn. So much pain - in both their eyes. He wondered how the fates could be so cruel - to allow these two to share such deep feelings for each other and yet not allow them to be together. Shaking his head sadly, he followed Doubar.
Sinbad and Bryn stood in awkward silence - something unfamiliar to both of them. They had always been so comfortable with each other...
"I'm glad you found her...." Bryn said, managing a small smile.
Sinbad nodded. "Yeah..." He was still dazed - everything was happening so fast. He looked over at her. He had always been able to tell her mood, been able to read her eyes. Now, he looked into them and saw nothing. With a sinking heart, he realized that she was building a wall between them... cutting him off from her. He hated it. He knew she was hurting... knew he had caused that hurt yet again - not directly, but still.... He wanted so much to just take her in his arms and hold her... talk to her. He was feeling so mixed up. When they had been about to kiss, before the fight, he had been so certain that Bryn was the woman in his dreams... But, when the fog had finally cleared, it was Brianna's dark eyes that stared back at him. She was the one that stole his heart on the island. And yet... He started to reach out to her. "Bryn...."
"You better go to her, Sinbad. You've got a lot of catching up to do," Bryn said quietly, turning to look back at the now darkened sea. From the corner of her eye, she saw Sinbad hesitate, his outstretched hand hovered just above her shoulder... then clenched and slowly dropped away. She closed her eyes against the onslaught of tears. A few minutes passed and then she heard him slowly walk away from her. His footsteps faded away and she gasped, unable to keep the sobs back any longer.
As she cried, she felt a comforting presence nearby and looked around. Marianas appeared from the veil of darkness, surrounded in a dim shimmering light. She gazed at Bryn, compassion and sadness in her eyes.
"Cry not my childe, for all is not what it seems. Keep your eyes on the dark one."
Her soft voice whispered in Bryn's mind, calming the raging hurt in her heart. Bryn frowned. "I don't understand..."
"Beware... darkness gathers round you and the one you love. Remember... deep inside, the strength you will find ..."
Marianas' began to shimmer and fade. Bryn reached out to her. "No! Wait!" But she was gone. Bryn frowned as she turned towards the inn. The dark one... was the elder talking about Brianna? Her earlier sense of unease and foreboding returned and she quickly made her way to the inn.
Once inside, she looked around. Doubar was at the counter, ordering more ale. Rongar was sitting at a corner table with Sinbad and Brianna. Sinbad laughed at something Brianna said and reached out to caress her cheek. Bryn bit her lip as the hurt came back with a vengeance. Turning away, she made her way over to the counter. Doubar looked over at her and gave her a small smile.
"You ok, Bryn?" he asked gently.
She smiled at the concern in the big man's voice. "Yeah, Doubar. I'm fine..." He glanced over his shoulder at his little brother and a small frown crossed his face. "Doubar? What is it?"
He turned back to Bryn with a sigh. "It's nothing, Bryn. Just...
Sinbad's soft laughter mixed with Brianna's carried over to them, and she grimaced, her hands tightening into fists. "I know this can't be easy for you, lass..." Doubar placed a comforting hand on her shoulder.
She managed a weak grin. "I'm fine, Doubar... really. You better get back to the table with the ale..."
"What about you? You going to join..." he stopped as he realized how silly the question was. Sitting with Sinbad and Brianna was probably the last thing in the world Bryn wanted to do at the moment.
"I think I'll call it an early night..." she replied. He looked at her for a moment, then nodded. He gave her shoulder a little squeeze of support and left with the ales.
She made her way over to the stairs. She saw Sinbad look over at her, a question in his eyes. She mustered up a smile for him and faked a yawn. He grinned at her and nodded, returning his attention to Brianna.
As she looked at Brianna, Bryn's steps slowed. There was something about her... something that she couldn't quite put her finger on. She made her way up the stairs thinking about it, then shrugged and sighed - she was probably tired. And the feeling could be something she didn't want to acknowledge... jealousy.
Sinbad smiled at Brianna as they talked about life on the old island where they had first met. Neither remembered anyone else, or how they got their bracelets, but their time together was clear. Or rather, it was clear to her.
"Do you remember, Sinbad, the cliff overlooking the sea? We'd stand there for hours, just holding each other and you'd tell me about your life at sea?" Brianna's dark eyes danced with laughter as she leaned across the table.
Sinbad nodded as the memory slipped through his mind. But even as he smiled and talked, a part of him felt uneasy. There was something strange about the memories... although these new ones - the ones triggered by Brianna's conversations - were clear, the ones he'd been having as dreams were still shrouded in a fog. He wondered why and frowned as he wished, once again, that Bryn hadn't left so early. He wished she were here so they could talk like they always had. A sense of longing filled him as he realized he missed being with her... missed her wisdom, her laughter... missed just having her close to him. His heart squeezed as he remembered the hurt he had seen in her eyes and the way she had closed herself away from him. He hadn't known how much it would hurt to be shut out of her life....
He shook himself out of his thoughts and smiled at Brianna. "Sorry. Guess I'm a bit tired... it's been a long day. For you too." She smiled, and Sinbad found himself forgetting his earlier unease as he became lost in the soft darkness of her eyes.
"I am a bit tired... I'm just so happy that I finally found you again," Brianna whispered, reaching out and taking Sinbad's hand.
Doubar stretched with a loud grunt and clasped his brother's shoulder. "Well, bed time then! We have an early morning if we're going to make that tide, Sinbad." Rongar nodded in agreement.
"Yeah, you're right, Doubar..." Sinbad helped Brianna stand up. The four of them made their way up the stairs. Sinbad and Brianna stopped outside the room she would be sharing with Bryn. Rongar pulled Doubar along - he was uncomfortable leaving his little brother alone with the woman.
"Good night, Brianna. Sweet dreams..." Sinbad frowned when he saw the slight dismay on her face. "What is it? What's wrong?"
She hesitated, then wrapped her arms around his neck and kissed him. After a long moment, Sinbad gently pulled himself away from her. "Good night, Bri.." he murmured as he watched her go into the room and close the door.
As he walked down the hallway, his hand brushed against his lips and his thoughts returned to Bryn. Why was it... if Brianna was the other half of him, his lost love... her kisses didn't make his senses tingle the way Bryn's had...
Bryn woke up and knew she had overslept. The sun was shining too brightly through the wooden slats to be early morning. She threw the covers off and opened the slats. Bright sunshine and the chirps of the birds greeted her. She smiled and took a deep breath of fresh air. It was a lovely mid morning. Dermott let out a squawk and flew over to her, sitting next to her hands on the ledge. She grinned at him as she stroked his head. "Good morning to you too, Dermott." He preened himself and then soared out for his morning flight. Bryn watched him for a little bit, before walking back to sit on her bed.
It was then she saw the other bed and realized that not only was it empty.. it had been unslept in. Her good mood instantly disappeared and her heart fell to the floor. She tried to push the now familiar hurt away. What had she expected... Brianna was Sinbad's true love... the one from his dreams. Not her.
Weariness settled over her as she changed her clothes and made her way downstairs. She had tossed and turned for hours, unable to sleep. And when it had finally come, her dreams had been filled with images of sea blue eyes and Marianas' words.. and once again, those half remembered memories.
She found Doubar sitting at a table, picking at his breakfast. She sat next to him and looked at his dish. "That looks... interesting. What was it before you picked it to death?"
Doubar grumbled something she didn't quite catch. She sighed and, when the barmaid brought over a tray for her, joined him in picking at the food.
"So... is Brianna still sleeping?" Doubar asked after a few moments of silence.
Bryn's grip on her spoon tightened. "No," she replied tersely.
"Is she coming down to eat?" Doubar asked, still picking at his food.
"I don't know, Doubar. Maybe you should ask Sinbad," she tried to keep the hurt out of her voice as she savagely stabbed at the eggs on her plate.
Doubar looked over at her, realization finally dawning on him that something was bothering her. "Bryn... I think it's dead."
"What?" Bryn paused and looked at him in bewilderment.
He waved his fork over her plate. "Your eggs. I think they're dead. You can stop stabbing them."
Bryn scowled at Doubar, then looked down at the mess on her plate. She broke out in a fit of giggles.
Doubar grinned. "Aye, that's better, lass." He gave her some time to settle down. "So... why should I be asking Sinbad if Brianna's coming down to eat?"
"....Brianna didn't sleep in our room last night, Doubar," she said replied quietly, the laughter suddenly leaving her.
"Well, we dropped her off at the room last night, then Sinbad and I went to our room. He fell asleep before I did. And I know he stayed the night, because I woke up a few times to hear him tossing and turning. Are you sure she didn't sleep in the room, lass?"
"Yeah, Doubar. Her bed was unslept in..." She looked over at Doubar who was frowning. "Doubar? What is it?"
He sighed and went back to picking at his food. "I don't know, Bryn. Just... something about that woman bothers me. The way her and Sinbad talked last night... how come she remembers things and Sinbad doesn't - until she mentions it. She never told us why she was on the docks. And..."
"And... what, Doubar?" Bryn prompted, unease filling her at his words.
He scowled. "She doesn't... 'feel' right, Bryn. When I look at her eyes... they make my skin crawl. They're empty. Almost like... there's no one inside."
Bryn suddenly dropped her fork and sat up. "That's it!" she gasped, grabbing Doubar's arm. "There was something about her that bothered me, but I couldn't put my finger on it last night. Doubar, you know how I can sense things with people, animals... anything living?"
"I don't sense anything with Brianna. Nothing. Not even a small flicker of emotion. Almost like..."
"She's not what she seems," Doubar finished her sentence. He got up from the table. "I'm going to go find Sinbad. He should know about all this."
Bryn stood up. "Doubar... he may not want to listen. He thinks she's the one from his memories. And.. we really don't have anything solid to tell him. Just our feelings."
"What are you always trying to tell us, Bryn? Trust our feelings. Well, I'm trusting mine. And yours. You can't tell me that you honestly think Brianna is the love of Sinbad's life, can you? We both know, you and Sinbad belong together." Bryn stared at the big man in shock and Doubar chuckled. "Don't worry. I haven't said anything to Firouz or Rongar. Although I'm pretty sure they already figured the same thing out. It's pretty obvious you two are crazy about each other." He gently clasped her shoulders. "Don't worry, Bryn. We'll get to the bottom of this. Now, come on. Let's go find that brother of mine."
Almost an hour later, they still hadn't found Sinbad. Or Brianna. Rongar and Firouz had also joined the search and they had looked everywhere in the village - the nearby forest, the beach, the pier.
"Where could they be?" Doubar growled in growing frustration.
"Darkness gathers round you and the one you love" Marianas' words whispered through Bryn's mind as her unease began to turn into panic. "I don't know, Doubar...."
"There's Krasis. Maybe he'll know something..." Firouz suggested. Doubar didn't know if the old man could help them, but he was ready to try anything. They started walking over to Krasis when a voice rang out in the streets.
"Doubar! Doubar!" They turned to see Amir, one of the newer crew members, come running down the street towards them. "I've been looking for you, I found out where Captain Sinbad and the woman went." He took a moment to catch his breath before continuing. "Jadin said he saw the Captain leaving earlier. They were going to visit her family in the village at the centre of the Isle."
Krasis looked at Amir in puzzlement. "Village at the centre of this Isle? But... there is no such village there."
"What? Are you sure, Krasis?" Doubar asked.
The elder nodded emphatically with a frown. "Oh yes, absolutely sure. There's nothing at the centre of the Isle. It's a mass of dark, twisted trees that are so huge they block any light. No living thing exists there. Especially with...." his voice faded and he bit his lip.
"With what?" The hair on the back of Doubar's neck started to prickle and his shoulders tightened with tension. His senses were telling him his little brother had stepped into something, yet again.
Krasis looked at them with worry. "Well... it's just a rumour. I mean, no one's ever really seen it. Since no one goes into the area - there's no reason to, of course... I mean, why would anyone go there. It's so dark and eerie.. and..."
Doubar cut him off with a growl. "Krasis! Tell us what it is! Now!"
The elder nodded, his eyes as big as saucers as Doubar seemed to grow even taller before his eyes. "Ok, ok... legend has it... that... a.. a monster... a creature as dark as night and created by ultimate evil dwells in the centre of the Isle. It lives by consuming the life force of any living thing that is drawn to it. Since it can't travel outside the protection of the forest, it uses its... past victims... now its helpers... to lure humans to it...."
Bryn paled at hearing this and gripped Doubar's arm. "Brianna... Doubar, she's taking Sinbad to that thing," she whispered.
Doubar looked at her in horror. "But why, lass? She cares for Sinbad!"
She shook her head. "No, Doubar. Remember how I couldn't get a feeling from her? You thought her eyes were dead? It's because she's one of them. A shade. A human that's had it's soul and life force ripped from their body. The evil that I've been sensing... it's that creature. I'm sure of it. And she's leading Sinbad right to it!"
With a growl of anger, Doubar turned back to Krasis. "Where do we go to find this thing, and how far is it?" Without waiting for an answer he glared at Amir and asked, "When did Jadin say Sinbad left?"
"Almost 2 hours ago, Doubar."
"You follow the path here until it splits into two. Take the one that leads into the dark woods. In the middle of that, there's supposedly a dark cave - that's where the creature lives. But.. there are dangers before you reach it - servants of it that haunt the woods," Krasis wrung his hands in worry.
"We'll take care of it. I'm not going to let anything stop me from finding my little brother!" Doubar growled. "Firouz, how are you feeling? Maybe you should stay behind."
The physician emphatically shook his head. "No, Doubar. I'm fine, and I'm not staying behind. Sinbad is like a brother to me. Let's go."
Doubar looked at Firouz' pale face with a frown. But he saw the worry in his friend's eyes and relented. "All right, then. Let's go get Sinbad away from that... thing!"
"No. You can not leave yet." They turned to see Marianas standing in the path. Her dark eyes pierced Bryn's. "You are not yet ready."
Doubar, his mind and heart wracked with worry over his little brother, growled impatiently. "What do you mean 'not ready'? We've no time for riddles, old one. We're leaving. Now." He started to brush past her.
"If you leave now, your brother will die. For she has not yet remembered and found the hidden strength needed to save him."
All eyes turned to Bryn. She raised her eyes and was about to ask what Marianas' meant, when her rainbow bracelet started to glow.
"How much further is your parents' village, Brianna?" Sinbad asked as they walked through the darkening forest.
"Not much further, my love," she replied with a smile.
They had been walking most of the morning. At first, they had taken their time - stopping every once in awhile to sit and rest, talk. But Brianna had picked up the pace, saying she wanted to reach the village in time for a late lunch.
As they walked, she began to talk again. But Sinbad was only half listening. A sense of unease had slowly begun to build. The feeling that Bryn, not Brianna, was the one he should be with had intensified since last night. And the dreams... those half remembered dreams had again haunted his sleep with an almost urgent intensity. He should be comfortable with Brianna, and yet he wasn't - not like he was with Bryn.
His rainbow bracelet suddenly started to glow, and he shook himself out of his thoughts. He gripped Brianna's arm and took his sword out of its scabbard as he looked around. They were standing at the edge of a massive line of gnarled and twisted trees that reached up into the sky. He couldn't see very far into them, for the sunlight didn't reach the ground. The grass was a dull brown, withered and scraggly. Sinbad didn't need Bryn's magic to know the forest was evil.
"Come on, Sinbad. The village is right past those trees," Brianna laughed as she slipped away from him and ran into the darkness.
"Brianna! Wait!" he called out. But she was already gone. He gritted his teeth and tightened his grip on his sword as he ran in after her.
Sound became muted when he passed the first line of massive trees. There was no noise in here... no animals burrowing or scampering around in the dirt; no birds in the air.... nothing lived in this dark place. The silence was overwhelming. His eyes slowly adjusted to the dark and he looked around, trying to find Brianna.
"Brianna!" he yelled out. His voice didn't even echo, the darkness just smothering it.
"I'm here, Sinbad. Behind you."
He whirled around, his eyes narrowing. He could barely see her, yet he knew something was different about her. Her voice sounded... dead. She moved towards him and he could have sworn she was floating. As she slipped into a small sliver of sunshine, he gasped. All semblance of humanity was gone from her - all that remained was a dark shade with no features whatsoever. Dark eyes, darker than the night stared back at him as she raised a gnarled hand.
"Come, Sinbad, my love. My father is eager to meet you...." she hissed. A blaze of lightning shot from her hand and hit Sinbad, sending him flying through the air. He landed on the ground with a sickening thud.
"Bryn...." he called out in agony, before the world went black.
Bryn suddenly collapsed and would have fallen to the ground if Doubar hadn't caught her. "Sinbad!" she gasped, her face drawn in pain.
"Bryn! What's wrong?!" Doubar supported her for a long moment while she caught her breath. She gripped his arm in a tight vise.
"It's Sinbad... Doubar, it's got him. Brianna betrayed him and she's taking him to that creature!" She looked over at Marianas, trying to quell the ever growing panic.
"You said I'm not ready yet. Can you help me? Will you help me?"
The elder nodded. "Time is short. We must hurry or all will be for naught." She held out her hand. "Take my hand, childe. And remember that which you have forgotten... and the strength you need to recover that which will be lost...."
Bryn walked over to Marianas, and held out her hand. But then hesitated as her earlier doubts about the old one returned. Could she trust her? Would she really help her or was it a trap... She shoved her doubts aside. Sinbad was in trouble - more trouble than he'd ever been in. He needed her. And she would do anything, risk anything, to ensure his safety. She clasped Marianas' hand.
She blinked as a mist fell over her eyes. Then she saw Sinbad's sea blue eyes gazing down at her, filled with tenderness and a depth of love she had never seen in them before. "I love you, Bryn." Sinbad.... suddenly, he disappeared and she was sitting on a beach, wrapped in his arms as they watched the sun set. "Happy?" he murmured as he lightly kissed her neck. She nodded and looked over at him.. felt herself smile. "Very..." she replied, before taking his breath away with a kiss. As the scene shifted yet again, she suddenly realized these were her half remembered memories. And her heart soared as it finally became clear - the man in them... the one who haunted her sleep... the one her heart ached for... was Sinbad. She was on the beach again. He stared down at her as his hand traced over her face. This time, his eyes were filled with such a deep sorrow. "I will find you again, one day. I swear it...." he whispered, his voice husky with emotion, as his lips captured hers in a soulful kiss. She returned the kiss with equal force, letting his love for her fill every part of her heart and soul. They were being separated... she was losing the other half of herself... "I'll find you again.... I love you... now and always..."
Bryn fell away from Marianas', her eyes filled with tears at the torrent of emotions that flowed through her. So much love... so much heartache... and yet... within it all, she found that special strength she needed to save him. It was their deep, unconditional love for each other that would pull them through this. And anything else that life would throw in their path.
Marianas' nodded as she saw the knowledge in Bryn's eyes. "Yes... you have found your strength. You are ready now. But beware. The DarkOne is strong and cunning. It will do whatever it can, use whatever powers it has, to try and stop you. You will sacrifice much to bring him back."
Bryn nodded and turned to Doubar. "We have to hurry. Sinbad's running out of time." She rushed past Marianas', Doubar hot on her heels. Rongar and Firouz followed. As he passed the elder, Firouz paused and looked at her.
"Will she.. he... they.. will Sinbad and Bryn... will they finally be together after this is all over?" he asked hesitantly.
Marianas nodded. "Yes."
"How..." he began to ask, then shook his head. He didn't understand this, being a man of science and facts, but he had seen enough to trust her words. His mind whirling and trying to assimilate everything that had happened, he walked away to join the others. He didn't hear her final words.
"Whether on this world or in the afterlife... remains to be seen..."
Firouz huffed as he tried to keep up with the brisk pace set by Doubar and Bryn. For the umpteenth time since they had left the village, Rongar looked over at him in worry and pointed towards Doubar.
"No, Rongar. I'm fine. We don't need to stop." Firouz tried not to wheeze too much. At the look of doubt in his friend's eyes, Firouz shook his head emphatically. "I'm really fine, Rongar. Besides... oh my..." He stopped short and looked around in fascination. They had reached the edge of the DarkOne's domain. He and Rongar walked over to where Bryn and Doubar stood. The rainbow bracelet on Bryn's wrist fiercely glowed.
"It's pitch blackness in there... how're we going to make our way through it?" Doubar growled, as he tried to peer into the dark forest.
Firouz raised his eyes and suddenly began rooting around in his bag. "Aah.." he exclaimed a few minutes later, pulling out 2 torches and his flint. He grinned. "I put these in my bag earlier thinking... well... they may come in handy."
Doubar grinned as he took one of the torches. "Good thinking, Firouz!" Using the flint, he lit his torch and the one Rongar held. Then looked over at Bryn. "Ready?"
She nodded, then looked up at Dermott sitting on a branch. "You wait here, Dermott. It's too dangerous in there for you to follow..." He squawked in protest, but stayed put. She she pulled her sword from its scabbard. "Ok... let's go. Everyone be careful. It knows we're coming...." She stepped into the darkness.
The darkness inside was even more oppressive than any of them thought possible. Even with the light from the torches, they could only see a few steps in front of them. Darkness and absolute silence surrounded them, deadening their footsteps and invading their spirits. The further they walked, the more Bryn felt strands of fear tugging at her mind. How was she going to save Sinbad... her lifemate. She didn't even know where to go.... and once she got there, what would she do. As the fear began to grow and take root, her strides became shorter, until she stopped walking.
"Bryn? What is it, lass?" Doubar looked over at her, but she didn't answer.
Doubt began too gnaw at her insides. How was she, someone who could barely understand and control her powers, going to defeat something as dark and evil as the DarkOne. And even if she did... would Sinbad still think of Brianna as his love, his lifemate? Would he turn away from her as he had done earlier.... What if she didn't have the strength to do this.... what if.... As she felt her will and strength slipping away, she heard Marianas' words in her mind.
"Don't listen to the dark, Bryn. Remember, your love is your strength...."
Bryn closed her eyes and let herself remember Sinbad... his warm laugh... his gentle touch on her cheek... his compassion... the way his eyes sparkled with life and laughter... the way they looked at her with so much tenderness... love... Sinbad.... She let the memories and warmth of him wrap around her, crushing the darkness and doubt out of her heart and mind. She opened her eyes and saw Doubar, Firouz and Rongar gathered around her, looking at her in concern. She gave them a big smile.
"I'm fine. Just fine...." she whispered, still warmed by the memories she held inside. "Let's keep going." She began walking again, her steps sure and filled with a renewed determination. She had found the missing half of her - and she would not lose him again.
They had been walking for what seemed like forever. Every once in awhile, doubt would assail one of them - doubt that they would ever see the light again, that they would ever find Sinbad in time. And each time, Bryn would grasp their shoulder and smile, telling them to keep faith.
Doubar walked alongside Bryn. He didn't know where they were going. Yet, when she began to turn left, without missing a step, he did too. His feet seemed to move with a mind of its own.... as if someone was guiding him. And he felt a need for urgency.... time was becoming short. He didn't know how he knew.... he just did. If he didn't reach his little brother soon, he would be lost to him forever. Bryn must have sensed the same, for they both picked up the pace at the same time. Suddenly, he thought he heard something. He slowed his pace. There it was again....
"Did you hear that?" Doubar asked Bryn. She frowned and was about to shake her head when they all heard it. Sinbad's voice, weak... full of agony.
"Help... me... Doubar....."
"Sinbad... Sinbad! Where are you little brother?!" Doubar frantically looked around him. Then he gasped and grabbed Bryn's arm. Even in the dim light, he could make out the battered and bloodied form of his little brother, laying on the ground not far from where they stood.
As if hearing Doubar, Sinbad raised his head and grimaced. "Dou...bar...? Big brother... is that... you?"
They all gasped in horror. Sinbad's right eye was swollen shut, a large gash near his forehead seeped blood, as did several cuts and nicks crisscrossing his face. He grimaced in pain as he reached out with one arm towards them. Firouz closed his eyes, seeing the missing fingers on Sinbad's hand.
"Dou...bar... help me... please!"
The pain in his little brother's voice gripped his heart in a vise.
"Hurry, Doubar! They're coming back for me... please... come help me! Doubar!" Sinbad cried out, panic rising in his voice. Doubar watched in horror as his little brother began to drag himself towards them, both his legs being broken.
"Hang on, little brother! I'm coming for you!" He put his sword in its scabbard and started to run to him.
"No! Doubar, no!" Bryn yelled and grabbed the bigger man, using all her strength to keep him from running to Sinbad. Rongar, sensing something amiss, grabbed Doubar from the other side.
"Are you crazy, lass?! Let me go! That's Sinbad!" Doubar roared, as he tried to twist away.
"No! Doubar, that isn't Sinbad..." Bryn yelled back, her eyes narrowing as she looked over at Sinbad.
"What?! Of course it is, Bryn! I'd know my little brother anywhere! You can see him just as well as I can!" he growled, still struggling.
"No... no, that isn't him, Doubar. Doubar, look at me!" Bryn shook him hard, forcing his eyes away from the heartbreaking sight in front of him. "Remember when I couldn't sense anything from Brianna? It's the same with that... thing. It's not Sinbad! I should be able to feel him, sense him... I don't. It's not him, Doubar. It's a shade taking his form." She saw the doubt and pain in his eyes as he looked from her over to his little brother and back to her again.
"How can you be so sure, Bryn... it sounds like Sinbad... looks like him..."
Bryn nodded. "I know, Doubar. But it's not. And deep down, you know it isn't him, too. It's playing tricks with you. Using your deep bond with Sinbad against you, making you think its Sinbad." She grasped his chin and forced him to look at her. "Doubar, don't trust your eyes," she whispered urgently. "What do your feelings tell you, Doubar? What does your heart say?"
"Doubar... please... what are you doing? Come help me, please! They're almost here... don't let them take me away again... help me, big brother!"
Doubar closed his eyes, trying to listen to Bryn's words and not listen to the pain he heard in Sinbad's voice. It sounded so much like his little brother... and yet... there was something he couldn't quite place.... He opened his eyes and looked over at Sinbad again. His brother raised his head and looked at him with his one good eye.
And Doubar suddenly heard what his heart was trying to tell him. This wasn't his little brother. The eye... Sinbad's eyes had always been a window into his heart and soul, reflecting his mood and thoughts. This Sinbad... Doubar looked into its eye and saw nothing. No tears, no pain, despite the agony which should be mirrored there; no emotion... nothing. It was the same as when he had looked at Brianna's eyes.
"You're not my little brother...." Doubar growled. Then Bryn, Firouz, and Rongar had to hold him back again as he tried to surge forward in anger. "You're not Sinbad! What have you done with my little brother, you monster!!"
Sinbad stopped dragging himself on the ground and looked over at them. Then he grinned as he slowly stood up and started to change. Sinbad's features seemed to melt and his body shimmered in the pale light. He became a thing with no shape, no features except a pair of dark, dark eyes.
"Oh Doubar... help me, please. Help me..." it called out in Sinbad's voice, then cruelly laughed. "I'm dying big brother... help me...." it whispered as it disappeared into the darkness of the forest.
For a long moment, no one said anything, still shaken by the sight of what they had first thought had been Sinbad. Firouz let out a deep breath. "Well... Marianas did say the DarkOne would throw whatever it could at us..."
Sinbad stood on weak legs and grinned as the DarkOne growled in frustration. He stood in the middle of a vast chamber, deep inside the DarkOne's cave. He was battered and bruised, but his spirit was still intact. He had watched anxiously as Doubar and Bryn confronted his shade double as the images flickered onto the chamber wall. He was glad that they hadn't fallen for the trap the monster had set for them.
"Don't smile so, sailor...." the DarkOne hissed as it's massive form strode towards him with surprising grace and quickness. "They may have escaped my minion and they may be close... but they'll not reach you in time to save you....." It lashed out with a lightning quick backhand that sent Sinbad hurtling through the air.
He smashed into the wall on the far end of the chamber and slid to the ground. He winced, feeling the pain in every part of his body, as he slowly got to his feet. The DarkOne watched him with dark, empty eyes, it's head tilted to the side.
"You have spirit, boy. I will give you that. Yes... your life force will be a very nice meal. And you would make a very nice addition to my collection of shades."
Sinbad glared at it, broken ribs making it almost impossible for him to catch his breath enough to say anything.
"Unfortunately for me... Scratch was very specific in his orders." It grinned malevolently at the surprise that flickered across Sinbad's face. "Yes, Sinbad. Scratch. You and he are... acquaintances, I believe. Too bad for me that he wants you destroyed. Completely and utterly. No afterlife as a shade for you, Sinbad."
"Lucky me..." Sinbad managed to mutter.
It glanced over at the wall where images of Bryn and the others still flickered. "As for the woman..."
"Leave... her... alone!" Sinbad growled, ignoring the pain of his broken bones.
The DarkOne looked at him with amusement. "I would have, dear Captain. Scratch did say to leave her be. But she has remembered the dreams - thanks to that interfering double crossing witch - she'll have to be destroyed as well. She has the ability to not only defeat me but..." It stopped and chuckled. "Ah... good move, Captain. Trying to get me to talk and tell you what I know. Not going to work...."
Sinbad's mind leapt at the DarkOne's words. Bryn remembered! And it was scared of her... maybe there was a way out of this yet. Now.. if only he could remember... He didn't know how or why, but he felt that the dreams were important and played a big part in this somehow. He had to remember... He glanced over at the images and saw that Bryn and the others had reached the entrance to the cave. He had to keep the DarkOne distracted...
But the DarkOne had already sensed Bryn's presence at the foot of its lair. It began to glow red as it gathered all its power together. "This has been... interesting, Sinbad. Too bad it's time for you to die," it hissed, as it unleashed its full powers on Sinbad.
Sinbad couldn't keep back the scream as the DarkOne began consuming his lifeforce.
Pain. Absolute, gut wrenching pain. It blazed through every nerve in her body until it was all she could feel, and threatened to overwhelm her. She could barely breathe, barely move. In the distance, as if in a dream, Bryn heard Doubar and Firouz calling her name, heard their rushing footsteps approach. Wave after wave of endless excruciating pain.....
She felt Doubar holding her as Firouz tried to talk to her. She blindly pushed herself away. Leaning against the side of the cave for support, she summoned all the strength she had and gathered in all his pain, his anger..... his fear. Took it all within her and sent back the courage, the love, the strength to endure.
*You're not alone, Sinbad. Hang on...*
As suddenly as the pain arrived, it was gone. Strength suddenly left her, and she collapsed onto the ground, gasping for breath. She wrapped her arms around her and closed her eyes. Allah, that had hurt so much... but as bad as it had been for her, how much worse had it been for Sinbad...
"Bryn... Bryn! Are you all right, lass?"
Bryn opened her eyes and saw Doubar, Firouz, and Rongar all kneeling before her, concern etched on their faces. She shuddered and nodded, letting Doubar help her to her feet. Her knees buckled and she fell against him. For a brief moment, she clutched him and he gently patted her back, allowing her some time to gather herself.
"It was Sinbad... wasn't it," he asked quietly, not really wanting to hear her answer. "You were feeling his pain..."
She wiped the tears from her eyes as she stood on her own. She looked up at him, and her heart almost broke at the haunted look in his eyes. His normally boisterous face was haggard with worry.
"Yeah, Doubar. It was Sinbad..." she whispered. She gripped his arm tightly, and they tried to encourage each other with a small smile. She took a deep breath. "I'm going in there. Alone."
Doubar, Firouz, and Rongar all started to protest.
"No argument!" she silenced them with the vehemence in her tone. She looked from one to the other. "I know you're worried about him. But the evil that's in this place... none of you are any match for it. And I can't fight it, and help Sinbad, and protect the 3 of you all at the same time. If something happens to me, you'll have to take care of it. But I'm the only one that has even a sliver of a chance against the DarkOne."
Doubar sputtered. "Bryn, Sinbad's..."
"Your little brother, the only family you have left in the world," Bryn finished for him. "I know that, Doubar. But.... it has to be me," she whispered. She saw the emotions battling across his face and she gently squeezed his arm, knowing her next words were going to hurt him deeply but she had to make him understand. "Doubar, the DarkOne is ripping his lifeforce from him - that was the pain I felt. Sinbad's my lifemate, Doubar.... the other half of me. A half that I lost and finally found. I'm not going to lose him yet again. I know you've been his protector and always been the one to save him ever since he was born. Now, it's my turn. Can you trust me to save him... WILL you trust me... please?"
Doubar tried to protest, but the words died on his lips when he looked into her eyes. All the worry and anguish he felt were mirrored in her soft dark eyes. Doubled, if that were possible. Without a word, he nodded.
She let a deep breath. "Wait here. If you see any of the shades, don't touch them or let them touch you. Their touch is death. Although once I get in there, I doubt they'll bother you...." She looked around at the guys who had become her best friends and the closest thing to a family. She gave them a grin. "Don't worry. I'll be back. With Sinbad."
She disappeared into the darkness of the cave.
Bryn walked through the darkness, the glow from her rainbow bracelet the only light that lit her way. But she didn't even need its guidance. Her heart led her feet. The cave twisted and turned, hidden ruts and holes waited for her to fall. But she avoided them all. And everywhere around her, shades tried to stand in her way, hinder her. She just walked by without noticing them. They cried and wailed - their agony and sadness would have ripped apart any human heart. But she didn't hear them. They tried to invade her thoughts, make her doubt herself. But she ignored them. All she heard was Sinbad's gentle voice in her mind. All she saw was his smile. And all she thought about was finding her lifemate... finding him and never letting him go.
She saw a faint glow at the end of the passageway she had been walking. She slowly made her way to it and stood looking into the vast chamber. It was filled with shadows within the dark, shimmering in the pale light of thousands of candles. Wraiths, spirits, shades - minions and victims of the DarkOne floated and wailed. She glimpsed a figure on the floor, but she couldn't get a very good look through the shades.
As if hearing her very thoughts, the wraiths and shades suddenly parted and Bryn was able to clearly see the battered figure. Sinbad! Without hesitation or thought, she walked into the chamber. Intent on her beloved, she didn't notice the entrance or the creatures shimmer and disappear.
She knelt beside him, cringing inwardly at seeing him laying so still. With a shaking hand, she brushed back a stray lock of hair from his face. He groaned and when his eyes opened, she bit her lip, seeing the pain in their sea blue depths.
"Bryn?..." he croaked, fighting to focus his eyes on her.
"Yeah... it's me, Sinbad...." she whispered, gently caressing his forehead.
"No... you have to... leave. It.. it wants... to kill you, Bryn... you have to ... leave...." his voice raised a bit in panic as he tried to push her away.
"Shh... it's ok, Sinbad. I'm not leaving here without you. And I'm not leaving until that thing is dead," she whispered firmly.
Sinbad didn't have the energy to argue with her. He raised a weak hand and cupped her face, letting his thumb gently caress her cheek. "It said... you remembered... the dreams..."
She nodded, hesitantly. "Yeah... I remember, Sinbad..."
She could see sadness in his eyes as he whispered back, "I... I can't... remember... Bryn..."
She fought back the tears. "It's ok, Sinbad.... it's ok..." her voice shook a little as she wrapped her hands around his hand on her cheek, kissing the palm. "When it's dead, and we're out of here.. and back on the Nomad... you can regain your strength. And the memories will come to you...."
"I want... to remember.. now..." He grimaced as pain rippled through his body. Bryn squeezed his hand, giving him strength and comfort.
"Later, Sinbad... when you're stronger..." she whispered, leaning down and brushing a light kiss on his lips.
"My, my. What a sweet sight."
Bryn looked up and saw the DarkOne detach itself from the dark shadows where it had been watching. It slowly moved into the cavern.
Beneath her, Sinbad struggled to sit up, ignoring the pain that washed over him at the movement. Without taking her eyes off the DarkOne, Bryn gently but firmly pushed him down. "No... this isn't your fight anymore, Sinbad. My fight now..." As she tried to stand, Sinbad clasped her hand and she looked back at him. She smiled, not letting him see her fear. "I love you, Sinbad... my beloved," she whispered. Before he could say anything, she stood up and faced the DarkOne.
"So... you're the DarkOne." Bryn slowly moved away from Sinbad, drawing its attention away from him and towards her.
It mockingly bowed to her. "The one and only" it sneered. "And you... you're just in time to watch as I drain the last of the lifeforce from your beloved." It raised it's arm to unleash its power.
"No!" she yelled, taking a step towards it while gathering in her own powers.
At the last second, it turned and unleashed its power on her.
The battle had begun...
Sinbad grimaced as the ground beneath him shook. The cavern walls began to crumble, protesting against the onslaught of power being unleashed. He winced, seeing Bryn get hit by a particularly viscous blow that sent her flying into a wall. She quickly rolled and hit the DarkOne with a blast of wind, sending it smashing to the far wall. The cavern shook and another chunk of the ceiling crashed to the ground. Sinbad coughed through the dust, each breath causing a sharp pain to course through his body. He had tried earlier to move to a safer part of the cavern, but all he could manage was to shift onto his stomach - that alone had almost made him blackout from pain. He raised his head a little to see how the battle faired. The DarkOne was slowly getting to its feet. Bryn stood with her hands clenched at her side, her eyes glowing as she concentrated. The ground beneath them groaned and grumbled, then rolled forward throwing the DarkOne back down and pinning it against the wall.
Sinbad grinned. Way to go, Bryn. He remembered her doing that to him on the beach one day. He frowned. Wait... where did the memory come from... she never... He suddenly gasped as a wave of pain rolled through him. It passed after a long moment and he laid his head on the ground, exhausted. He let his mind wander, hoping that he would remember... before it was too late...
Bryn clutched her side, trying desperately to catch her breath. She knew it was only a matter of time before the DarkOne worked its way free from the wall and come after her again. She risked a quick look at Sinbad. He lay on his stomach, eyes closed. At this distance, she couldn't see if he was breathing, but she knew he was still alive. But she could feel him slipping away from her... slowly but surely. She had to finish off the DarkOne quickly so she could concentrate on healing Sinbad before it was too late... She heard the DarkOne growl and looked back to see it almost free. Despair filled her - she was hitting it with everything she had and it wasn't really doing much damage. And she was getting tired. What was she supposed to do?!
With a loud roar, it broke away from the wall. It began to stalk over to her, then suddenly stopped and jumped back with a low hiss of pain. Bryn saw a small trail of smoke rising from it and frowned. How did that happen... The DarkOne backed away further and started to go around a spot on the ground where a small beam of sunlight fell from a hole in the cavern ceiling.
She grinned and her heart soared. Of course! Sunlight! It was a thing of darkness - sunlight was a bane to it. She looked up through the hole. If she could get her powers to widen the hole and move the trees enough to get more sunlight in....
The DarkOne suddenly roared and came at her.
He was running down a beach... laughing... yelling over his shoulder... "hurry up or you'll never catch me, slow poke!".... her laughter and protest.. "no fair!".... laughing... and the ground suddenly rose beneath him, flipping him off his feet to land on the sand.... he lay there, looking up at the blue sky... her laughter... "gotcha"... she stood above him, hand on one hip... he couldn't see her face.... he squinted... "least you could do is help me up...".... she laughed - a sound that went right through to his heart... her hand reached down towards him... he pulled her down and rolled so she was pinned beneath him... both laughing... he kissed her... "I love you, Sinbad...." .... "I love you... Bryn..."
Sitting on the same beach... sunset... wood crackling from the fire.... holding her and watching the sea.... "Happy, Bryn?".... "Very...."... she shifts in his arms... dark, sweet eyes look up at him.... her gentle hand on his face, bringing his face towards her... a kiss that makes every part of him tingle....
Her dark eyes, this time filled with unshed tears... "Remember... I love you... always..."..... his soul is being ripped apart... she's leaving... he hugs her to him fiercely, not wanting to let her go.... a solemn vow... "I'll find you... I swear...".... watching her fade from sight... "I love you, my sea captain... my Sinbad..."... "I love you, my lifemate... my Bryn..." Bryn.... Bryn...
Sinbad awoke with a start. It took him a moment to realize where he was...why he was having problems breathing and his body was so numb... He closed his eyes, wishing he was back on the beach with Bryn... The ground beneath him rumbled and his eyes flew open. Bryn! With great effort, he lifted his head, searching for her. There... there she was. Still fighting the DarkOne. It was smoking in several areas and was struggling to gain its feet. She stood still, eyes closed as she tried to concentrate. He smiled as his head sagged back to the ground - he didn't have the strength to hold it up anymore. "I remember...." he thought to himself, feeling her love for him fill a part of him that had been empty ever since they had been separated. "I remember... I love you.... Bryn...." he whispered as the darkness took him away again. He hoped he heard her... hoped she knew....
Bryn tried to gather her strength for a final, big whirlwind. Big enough to rip through the remainder of the ceiling and the trees to bring the sunlight in. But she was tired... so tired... Every muscle in her body ached. Her mind screamed at her in protest. She fell to her knees, panting in exhaustion and frustration. It was hopeless... she didn't have the strength left...
"I remember... I love you... Bryn...."
She gasped as she heard Sinbad's voice... felt his love for her fill an emptiness she had never been able to fill in herself. He remembered! her heart rejoiced. It gave her the extra strength she needed. A small wind started to blow, then grew bigger and faster, howling and raging, picking up the debris from the ground, ripping loose bits of rock from the cavern walls.
The DarkOne howled with rage as it realized she really could destroy it. It charged towards her as she let the massive whirlwind loose. It flew up, destroying the rest of the cavern ceiling, higher and higher, ripping through the dark trees.
The DarkOne hurtled towards her, screaming in rage. It wouldn't be denied! She had to die or it would disappear and she would save Sinbad. It suddenly screeched and fell to the floor. Bryn's whirlwind had worked - sunlight poured into the cavern, bathing everything in its nurturing warmth.
Bryn watched from where she stood, as the DarkOne burst into flames, it's howl of agony echoing through the air. Then the cavern shimmered and disappeared, as did the dead forest. It had all been sustained by dark powers and without the DarkOne to maintain it, it simply vanished.
Bryn smiled and let out a half sob of relief. It was over! She had defeated it. Thanks to Sinbad.... Sinbad! Her heart raced as she saw his still form. She hobbled over to him, clutching her aching side. She knelt next to him and struggled to turn him over onto his back. He groaned and opened his eyes.
"Sinbad... it's over. The DarkOne's dead," she whispered. He was too weak to say anything... could only give her a small smile. She clasped his hand. "Hang on, Sinbad. Just a little bit longer..." she whispered urgently as he closed his eyes. "Sinbad...? No... no!" She felt him slipping away from her, her soul finally whole being ripped apart again. She bit back the flood of tears that she knew, once unleashed, would not stop until she met him in the afterlife. She tried to concentrate on gathering what was left of her strength, hoping that she would somehow be able to save her beloved... the other half of her soul.
"I love you Sinbad, I always will... please... don't leave.." she whispered.
She felt a strange tugging inside her and something began to flow within her. It surged through her body and hands, and she gasped as she realized it was her lifeforce passing into Sinbad. She looked down at his pale face and ran her hand gently across his chiseled face, softly caressed his closed eyes, his cheeks, his soft lips, trying to commit it all to memory. It would be all she had of him when she crossed to the other side of life. For she knew that in order for him to live, it would cost her her own life.
Smiling, she smoothed back a lock of his golden brown hair from his face. Even on death's doorstep, he slept with the peace of a child. Her fingers began to tremble as she felt her lifeforce draining from her body and flowing into his, replenishing that which had been so brutally ripped from him. She felt no regret, no sorrow. For she knew, even as the darkness began to invade her sight, that her soulmate would live. The world would mourn her passing and survive. But it would not survive his death. For he was the light, the small beacon of goodness standing against the darkness. Without Sinbad, without his nobility and courage, his humanity and strength, the darkness and chaos they had fought so hard against would triumph. She would give her life to him because she didn't want to see that happen. And because she could not bear the thought that nowhere on this earth exists a brown haired sailor captain with sea blue eyes, sailing the seven seas aboard the Nomad.
This then, was her one, final gift to him. Her love with the sea-blue eyes. She shivered as her body became cold... so cold... Her arms and head grew heavy.... blackness had almost taken her vision. She laid her head on his chest, as tears now ran down her cheeks unchecked, pooling onto his shirt. Bryn smiled and closed her eyes, hearing the beat of his heart grow stronger. As the last of her life force faded, her only regret was that she had not been able to see his sea blue eyes and feel his touch one last time. One... last time.... before....
Sinbad awoke, hearing the chirps of birds and feeling sunlight on his face. Slowly, he opened his eyes and found himself laying on the ground in a clearing. As he began to wonder what had happened, it all came back to him - the DarkOne ripping his lifeforce away from him; the dreams; remembering who Bryn was; seeing her defeat the monster. Then... he had blacked out. He felt a weight on his chest and looked down to see Bryn, her arms draped across him, facing him with her head resting on his chest. She seemed to be sleeping. He grinned. She must have exhausted herself fighting the DarkOne. His hand reached down and entwined in her soft hair. His heart filled with love and he felt whole... he had finally remembered and found the special thing that had been missing from his life... something that made him complete. His soulmate... his lifemate... his Bryn.
"Bryn..." he hoarsely whispered. She didn't move. He gently caressed her face. "Hey... Bryn...." he said a bit louder as his strength began to return. She didn't open her eyes. He chuckled, and tentatively began moving his limbs, making sure everything was still attached. He slowly sat up, cradling her so the movement wouldn't startle her. "Hey... sleepyhead... time to wake up..." He frowned when she still didn't move. He gave her a gentle but firm nudge. "Bryn?..." Still nothing... not even a muscle twitch or a flickering of her eyes. With growing panic, he began to shake her. "Bryn... Bryn?... Bryn!!"
Firouz, Doubar, and Rongar picked themselves off the ground and looked around in amazement. The darkness had disappeared, along with the cave, and the sun shone brightly down on them. The gigantic trees had disappeared and been replaced with young saplings, and they could hear birds flying in the air above them.
The ground beneath them no longer shook and groaned. When that had started to happen, the three knew that Bryn was fighting the DarkOne and they all had to struggle to keep from running to her aid. They knew they would not have been able to help her in any way, but still... she was family. Even if all they could have done was cheer her on or throw exploding sticks at it, it would have helped them feel less useless.
"I wonder how we'll find Sinbad and Bryn...." Firouz murmured as he searched the nearby area.
Doubar grinned, the sunlight bolstering his spirits. "Bryn remembered the past with Sinbad - Sinbad's probably remembered too by now. If I know those two, they probably forgot all about us and are stealing a quiet moment or two," he chuckled. Rongar grinned and nodded in agreement.
"NOOOOOOOO!!!!! Bryn!!!" The peace was shattered by a heartbreaking scream that seemed to come from everywhere around them.
Doubar paled, knowing that voice anywhere. "Sinbad!" He looked up as Dermott screeched and flew off. "Sinbad! Hang on! We're coming!" Doubar yelled as he took off running in the direction Dermott flew. Rongar and Firouz ran after him, their hearts pounding. They had never heard so much agony in Sinbad's voice before....
They ran through the clearing a little bit and up a small ridge. Then stopped at the sight in front of them. Sinbad was sitting on the ground, rocking back and forth with Bryn cradled in his arms. Firouz felt his heart plummet as he ran over to kneel before his friend and Captain.
"Sinbad..." he whispered, "Let me take a look at her..."
Sinbad didn't do or say anything. Just kept his eyes closed, clutching Bryn tightly to him.
"Sinbad...." Firouz whispered again, reaching out and slowly prying Bryn away from his embrace.
At the movement, Sinbad finally opened his eyes and Firouz bit his lips, seeing the depth of anguish his friend was feeling. He looked down at Bryn's pale face and tried to feel a heartbeat.
"Firouz...?" Sinbad whispered hoarsely, hoping yet knowing what the answer would be.
The physician shut his eyes briefly, steeling himself to face Sinbad. He looked over at him and sadly shook his head.
"No..." Sinbad whispered, "No, I can't lose her now.... not now.... She can't be gone, Firouz... she can't be...." Doubar and Rongar knelt next to him, Doubar wrapping a comforting arm around his little brother. "I couldn't save her.... couldn't help her...." he closed his eyes, tears threatening to fall.
"There is still time. She has not yet completely left this world."
Sinbad opened his eyes and through unshed tears, saw Marianas standing near them.
"You said they'd be together after this was all over! You said they'd be happy!" Firouz said yelled, angry that she had lied. Sinbad put a hand on his shoulder as he looked at the elder.
"What do you mean?" he asked, trying to keep hope from his voice.
"Look inside yourself, Captain. Do you feel her still?"
Sinbad frowned. "I.. don't understand..."
"You and she are bonded, Sinbad. Soulmates and lifemates - each the other half of the other. She is a part of you. Can you still feel her?"
Sinbad closed his eyes. All he felt was a deep emptiness where, for one brief moment, she had been. He started to pull away, unable to bear the pain of it... when he felt her. A thin thread of her essence was still with him. Weak... so weak... but she was there. His eyes flew open and he gasped. "I feel her... she's still here!" With a trembling hand, he gently caressed her cheek. "Bryn... Bryn... come back.... please...." He looked over at Marianas in desperation. "How do I bring her back? Can you...."
The elder shook her head. "Nay, Captain. I can not. Only you have the power to bring her back."
Sinbad frowned. "But... I have no magick. I don't know how....."
"Then she will fade and be lost to you until you meet again in the afterlife."
"No... no! I won't let her go!" he whispered fiercely. He stood, lifting Bryn up in his arms.
"Sinbad?" Doubar wondered where his brother was going - worried about what he might do.
"Leave me alone, big brother..." he whispered as he slowly carried her over to the edge of the clearing. He sat down, leaning Bryn against him so her head rested on his chest. He looked out at the sea they both loved as memories raced through his mind. Their life together was bound by the sea... They had met, lived, loved on or near it. He had never known what love was until she came into his life. Never realized how empty and lost he was until she came and filled him with her wisdom... her beauty... her presence. And now that he remembered what life had been like with her, he couldn't bear to lose that.. not again.
He hugged her tightly to him and closed his eyes, reaching for that small part of her still within him. Now that he knew what to feel for, he found her essence quickly. He cringed - she was weaker than she had been... she was leaving, and he still didn't know how to save her. "Bryn... please don't leave me...." he whispered. "I love you...."
He felt her essence flare up briefly at his words... then start to fade again, almost as if she didn't have the strength to come back to him. "No.. please... come back to me Bryn..." he whispered again. He had his eyes closed and was concentrating so hard on trying to hang on to her... he didn't notice when his rainbow bracelet started to glow. At first dim, with every plea and cajole he sent to Bryn to try and bring her back, it got brighter and brighter until it surrounded both of them in a warm white light.
"Come back, my Bryn... I need you...." Slowly, the emptiness within him fell away as she became stronger... taking strength from him and his deep, undying love for her.
He felt her fingers move inside his, and he opened his eyes. "Bryn...?" he whispered, hoping that what he felt hadn't been just wishful thinking. Her fingers moved again and after a long moment, she took a deep breath. With a shaking hand, he brought her hands up to his lips and softly kissed them. "Bryn... open your eyes, Bryn..." he whispered urgently. "Please... please...." He held his breath as he saw her eyes begin to flutter, then they opened.
"Sin...bad..?" she whispered. Her voice was so weak, but his heart soared. She was back! He laughed through his tears and gently caressed her face.
"Yeah, Bryn... it's me..."
She smiled at him, then closed her eyes and leaned against his chest. Firouz, who had come running over along with Doubar and Rongar when they had seen the glow of the bracelets, gave Sinbad a reassuring smile. "She's just sleeping, Sinbad. She's back..."
Sinbad nodded. "I know, Firouz. I can feel her..." He gently kissed her. "I can feel her again...."
After she had returned, Sinbad carried Bryn back to Creonis where she had slept at the inn for two straight days without waking. During that time, Sinbad never left her side, and either sat on the bed holding her tightly, or in a chair next to her. All the while, having something, a finger, his hand, his leg, touching her. Needing to feel the reassurance that she was here with him, even though he could see her sleeping next to him.
Marianas had mysteriously vanished from Creonis, without a word to anyone. Sinbad had briefly seen her that first night Bryn slept. She had smiled at him and nodded her head. That was all. There were so many questions he had wanted to ask her... and yet, none of it seemed important anymore. All that mattered was that his soul was complete once more... that his Bryn was back in his life, safe in his arms.
Now, three days later, Sinbad and Bryn stood on the deck of the Nomad, watching the lights of the Isle of Brohmir fade away into the darkness. Dermott sat on the rail, keeping a close eye on the two. Bryn leaned back against Sinbad, enjoying the feeling of being back in his warm embrace after so long. She still didn't completely understand what had happened. One minute she had been lost in darkness, feeling so tired and just wanting to sleep. To go away from all the hurt and heartache that seemed to surround her. But a voice had kept calling out to her... pleading with her to come back to him. It had been Sinbad... and the soul wrenching sadness and desperation she heard in his voice had been more than she could stand. It was then she had realized that just as she could not live without him and had sacrificed her lifeforce to him, he could not live without her. Had she not returned, Sinbad would have followed her into the next world. He could not live with only half a soul... without the better half of him. All this and his deep, binding love for her was what had finally given her the strength to reach out for him and come back.
She felt Sinbad shift slightly and she knew something was on his mind. Ever since their memories of their time together had returned, their ability to read each other's moods and thoughts had strengthened.
"Sinbad..?" she murmured, entwining her hands with his.
"hm.. it's nothing, Bryn. I was just thinking..." he replied, kissing the top of her head.
He sighed and tightened his hold around her. "Marianas and her prophesy. How close we came to losing it all.... how close I came to losing you... I didn't understand her words, Bryn. About looking deep inside for the strength to bring you back. I thought she was talking about magic... and I kept saying I didn't have any."
"But you do, Sinbad..." she replied softly, turning around in his embrace so she could look into those sea blue eyes of his.
"My love for you..." His hand caressed her face.
She nodded and kissed the palm of his hand. "Our love for each other. It's our greatest strength."
"Yeah...." He frowned. "I can't help thinking... if only I had remembered sooner. If only Brianna hadn't mixed me up... if only..."
She put a finger against his lips and shook her head. "Hush, Sinbad... what's that quote of Dim Dim's you always love to say? 'Everything has its purpose'. Don't think of 'what if's'. What matters is now. I'm here. And so are you."
He grinned. "You've always been the one with the wisdom...."
"And you've always been the one who thinks too much...." she teased, her dark eyes sparkling with laughter. His chuckle echoed in the silence. She reached up and wrapped her arms around his neck. "I love you... my sea captain... my Sinbad," she whispered, as she brushed her lips against his.
"And I love you... my Bryn... my lifemate." He returned the kiss softly, placing one hand around her back in a gentle embrace. His other hand caressed her cheek, her lips, her jaw, and finally came to rest in her dark luxurious hair. Slowly, he pulled her to him for another loving kiss.
Dermott gave a short squawk, almost like a chuckle, and soared up into the night sky.
For they are soulmates... lifemates. To the edge of the world and back, To death's doorstep and beyond, Where one goes, the other will always follow... All for love."