Sinbad had arrived just in time to see the first rock hit Bryn, and he ran forward without thinking, pushing his way through the crowd desperately trying to reach her. He doubled his efforts when he saw Bryn rise and jumped in front of the woman who seemed to be the only person, besides himself; here that didn’t want her blood. Sinbad watched as the rock flew to the right, away from the crowd and the woman, as Bryn used her magic to deflect it. She wasn’t going to hurt the townspeople even if they were trying to kill her, and Sinbad cringed as a few rocks made it throw her defenses striking her. He was tired of being nice as he viciously elbowed a town’s man in the face and started to fight his way to the front of the mob.
Bryn was getting tired. She knew that she wouldn’t be able to keep up this defense indefinitely. She could already feel the drain on her powers as more and more rocks broke through striking her. Just when she thought that she couldn’t take anymore the pelting stopped. Through her haze of pain and fatigue she thought she heard a familiar voice and thought questioningly “Sinbad?” right before she collapsed.
Sinbad pressed the tip of his sword tighter against the sniveling little priests throat wanting nothing more to slice it open and pull out the small minded little man’s tongue. He had broke through the crowd and heard the priest fanatically encouraging the townspeople to spill Bryn’s blood. Now all eyes were on the young captain as they waited to see what he would do to the priest.
“By Allah just what are you doing,” Sinbad said in menace. “I should kill you were you stand,” he added on a growl.
“She is a demon young foreigner, you have no idea what you are seeing here today, else you would not defend this loathsome creature,” the priest said confident in his own abilities to twist Sinbad to his cause. What the petty little man didn’t know was Bryn’s connection to the young captain. Sinbad smiled a predatory smile and decided to tell him.
“I’m afraid that I will be forced to disagree with you on that,” Sinbad said to the priest holding up his wrist and showing the man his rainbow bracelet. He then nodded to Bryn’s. The priest’s eyes widened in real fear now as he noticed the matching bracelet Bryn had on her arm. “As you can see me and the young lady have similar tastes in jewelry,” the young captain added his smile all teeth.
“Sinbad,” the young captain heard Bryn say weakly. He turned his head slightly keeping his eye on Xavier and checking Bryn out at the same time. The empath awoke with her head in Lonnie’s lap, the plump woman gently brushing back the younger woman’s hair back from her bleeding face.
“Yes Bryn it is me, can you walk,” he asked softly still watching the priest. Pain hit him like a physical blow when he noticed how battered Bryn was from her latest encounter.
“Y-Yes,” Bryn answered unsteadily as she tried to stand. Lonnie was there, supporting her, and she put her arm around the woman’s shoulder, gratefully, and treated her to a wan smile.
“Good because we are leaving,” he said loudly his voice carrying out to the crowd. “If anyone has a problem with that then this man’s blood will be on your heads,” he added harshly dragging Xavier in front of him and placing the blade firmly at the priest’s throat. The towns’ people back off, some of the men glaring at the captain, but keeping their distance. Lonnie helped Bryn who was slowly getting her strength back as they walked. Sinbad kept the priest in front of him like a shield until they reached the edge of the village. The captain then shouted out his final warning to the villagers. “Follow us and this man will die.” No one followed and Sinbad, Bryn, Lonnie, and their prisoner made it into the nearby forest unmolested.
Three hours later Sinbad was still viscously dragging the priest along, knowing that he had to keep the nastily little man with them until they were far enough away. He was seething inwardly as Xavier took yet another shot at Bryn with his venomous words. What really made the captain cringe though was Bryn’s response, or actually lack of response, to the verbal assault the priest was throwing at her. Ever since they had left the village the young witch had been nothing but a living, breathing, emotionless statue. The captain of the Nomad had to admit that Bryn’s current state of mind scared him more then all the sea monsters and demons he had ever faced in his young life. Sinbad cringed again as the little bigot spouted yet another fanatically religious verse at Bryn, denouncing her. The young captain was growing impatient with the priest’s verbally abused of the young witch.
“You are a demon, and the gods will deliver you into the hands of the righteous,” Xavier spat at Bryn who was ignoring him, still oblivious. Her and Lonnie were walking ahead of Sinbad and the priest, Lonnie having placed a supportive arm around Bryn’s waist. The young witch had barely acknowledged the gesture, as she was so lost in her own mind. The older woman had sent Sinbad quite a few looks that showed how concerned she was for the young lass, concern that was mirrored in the captain’s eyes
“You hear me witch,” the priest tried again the madness that he normal kept under control shining through his fevered eyes. That was the last draw for the captain as he gave an angry growl from low in his throat.
“I think that is enough talking for one day,” Sinbad said in a companionable tone his grin nasty. “Lonnie would you mind helping the priest conserve his voice,” he asked the middle aged woman his grin becoming larger. Lonnie who had stopped and turned to face the captain at the sound of her name had been gazing at him in puzzlement. That is until he made his last comment. The older woman’s face took on a grin of her own as she pulled a scarf from around her neck. “Aye I believe the priest here has done entirely too much talking, be a shame if he were to loss his voice because of it,” Lonnie said with a calculating look at Xavier. The older woman gently disentangled herself form Bryn who still hadn’t shown any real signs of life. She then purposefully strode toward the loathsome little man and proceeded to gag him tightly. After the deed was done Sinbad and Lonnie exchanged amused looks that only co-conspirators can achieve, studiously ignoring the indigent protests of the priest. Then both turned their gaze to the young witch, hoping to share their mirth with her, only to find her sunk to the ground on her knees starring off into the horizon. Sinbad’s heart twisted in his chest at the sight and he wondered for the hundredth time today if he had been too late to save her after all.
Night had fallen on the Emerald Isle, and Sinbad could be seen sitting on a log in the middle of a dark forest starring into the fire, like it held the all the answers the universe had to offer. The young captain was the only one awake, Lonnie and Bryn both having dropped off a candlemark or so ago. The priest also had fallen asleep, dozing fitful in the sitting position that Sinbad had tied him in. The loathsome little man was tied tightly to a tree still bound and gagged. Sinbad was worried, It had been three days since they had fled the village and Bryn had yet to utter a single word. Sinbad hated the dull look in her eyes, hated the feeling of helplessness that had overtaken him. She was battling her inner demons something the young captain knew was not something anyone could save you from. Still as he watched her sleep he was frustrated that he couldn’t help her, couldn’t protect her. By Allah what good would it do to have saved her life only to have her soul destroyed in the process, and that is what had raw primal fear coursing through the captain. Sinbad continued to stare into the fire searching for answers and absolution. He was too late he thought, she was gone from him, he knew it every time he had looked into her eyes. The brown depths that had always held such humor, kindness, and spirit were dead, lifeless. Sinbad’s heart felt like a Cyclops had taken its mighty hand and squeezed until there was nothing left. Sinbad silently cried out in despair to any god that would listen to please bring her back to him. He was so lost in his silent anguish that he didn’t notice that Bryn was awake, alert, and gazing at him.
“Sinbad,” she whispered softly and the young captain’s head shot up in surprise at the sound of her voice. He couldn’t believe it she was…that is…she spoke. The young captain shook his head in surprise falling backward off the log. Bryn couldn’t help herself; she laughed in spite of herself. Sinbad was so stunned for a minute that all he could so was stare and hope.
“Bryn,” he choked his voice fearful and hopeful all at the same time. The young captain then looked deep into her brown eyes afraid of what he might find. What he found gazing back at him filled him with such joy that he couldn’t contain himself. For there in those beautiful eyes he found what had been missing for the past three days…life. He scrambled to his feet, strode over to the sorceress and pulled her to her feet. He then, grasped her arm, turned on his heels, and started walking deeper into the woods, pulling the young witch behind him.
“Sinbad,” Bryn protested laughing. He didn’t answer her and she tried again all the while trying to keep up with him as he walked. “Sinbad what are you doing,” she questioned amused by his strange behavior. He still didn’t say anything, but he did stop and turn to face her. She was looking into his blue eyes not sure what she was seeing in them, and about to question him. She never had a chance as Sinbad pulled her roughly into his arms and proceeded to kiss her like she had never been kissed before. The young witch gasped in surprise as his lips covered hers, probing them, his mouth was rough and gentle all at once. Sinbad took advantage of the gasp, which parted her lips slightly and let his tongue slip past them into the warm recesses of her mouth. His wandering hands found her hips and rested there causing his figures to splay out across her backside. Bryn’s hands, in the mean time, had found there way into his hair giving him better access to her mouth and allowing him to deepen the kiss. Bryn was lost in a hazy cloud of pleasure as he continued to move that very skillful mouth across her lips, and her tongue of its own accord pushed forward entwining with his. She had been remembering her past and although she knew she had been kissed before, she also knew that she had never been kissed to the point were her legs refused to support her. Sinbad wasn’t in a much better state and he had kissed hundreds of women. No one had ever made him loss himself like this, and he knew if they continued he wouldn’t be able to stop himself from making love to her. The young captain reluctantly broke the kiss gasping for air and putting some much-needed distance between them.
“Sinbad,” Bryn said in confusion not understanding why he stopped.
Sinbad had her by the shoulders and was holding her away from him. “Bryn…I…that is…” he stuttered his blood still fired with desire. “Bryn we can’t,” he final managed to say his eyes filled with regret.
Bryn tried to mask her hurt, schooling her face into a mask of indifference, but she wasn’t quite fast enough in doing so. She turned her back on her captain and said the first thing she was capable of. “I…Sinbad it’s all right…I mean why would you want…” she said taking a shuddering breath.
“No Bryn you don’t understand,” he said grabbing her shoulders, forcing her to look at him. “I want you, I want you more than I have wanted anything in my life,” he added his eyes intense and sincere. “I just won’t take advantage of you. I mean for Allah’s sake you have been a living statue for the last three days, and I’m just glad…” he said choking on the words. He then gently placed his hand on her non-injured cheek and brushed his coarse work worn figures over the soft skin.
Bryn sighed, she was a little more then just hot and bothered herself but she knew he was right. She had just been able to come to terms with a part of her past that the stoning had triggered in her mind. If and when she made love to Sinbad it would not be because she wasn’t just seeking the comfort of his arms, it would be because it was the right.
“I know Sinbad and your right,” Bryn said taking a claming breath. “It isn’t the time or the place,” she added on a rueful grin.
The captain smiled his own rueful smile, then turned serious, “I had thought I had lost you,” he said softly.
“I know, I just couldn’t deal with…” she said the past still very painful for her.
“What did you remember Bryn,” he said in understanding, “that is if you want to tell me,” he added softly.
“You know I think I do,” she said supriseing herself on how badly she wanted to tell him.
Sinbad gently took a hold of her hand and lead her to a soft patch of grass under a near bye tree. He sank down resting his back against the tree and then pulled her down with him resting her in his lap. She sighed in contentment and laid her head on his chest, her eyes took on a far away look as she transported herself back to the past. Bryn could almost see herself, a dark haired child, too skinny, and very small for her age. Then she smiled as she saw the beautiful woman, who was her mother, scolding her again for getting her clothes dirty.
“My mother name was Shannon, she was always scolding me for ruining my dresses. It seems that I was a notorious tomboy,” she said to Sinbad starting her story. The young captain smiled he could feel her lips brush his chest as they turned up in a grin. “You…no,” he replied in mock disbelief. She gave him a playful slap on the arm giggled a little as he retaliated by tickling her. She then stilled and continued her story.
“Well as hard as it is to believe, I was,” she grinned again and then grew serious. “I was happy, mother loved me, but father…lets just say he wasn’t around much.” Sinbad squeezed her a little closer as if he could protect her from the past and she felt her heart leapt a little in her chest as she continued. “It was fine at first, father was a sailor by trade and his name was Donavan, he was seldom home. It was usually just mother and me, which I preferred since father ignored me when he was here anyway. I knew mother was lonely though and many in the village thought that her and Michael, the village tavern owner’s son, were having an affair. I knew though that she would never cheat on father. I had felt her constant terror of him, it was there even when he was off somewhere sailing. Mother lived her life in a shell afraid to look at anyone for fear of the consequences. Father was horribly jealous and possessive; he wouldn’t even allow her to have my grandparents to visit. Donavan controlled her, controlled us both, he intimidated when he needed to intimidate, and used guilt when she threatened to finally leave because of the intimidation. Even though I was young I knew that this situation wasn’t normal. My abilities allowed me to feel others emotions and I knew.”
“What caused him to let them visit when you were five,” he asked already having a good idea what the answer was.
Bryn smiled against his chest again but it was a bittersweet smile. “They found out I have powers,” she answered matter of factly. “It was right after my father was injured, about two months or so, he…he had been beating my mother for years but now that he was home and out of work…” she said trailing off. “Anyway I had seen it happen, even tried to stop it once, all that happened was I joined my mother in that beating.” Sinbad held her tighter as she began to shake. “One night, when he was very drunk, he came home and just started hitting her and hitting her. I was only five and this time my anger was…well more than a five-year-old should be capable of. That was the first time I had ever channeled my power, that I can remember that is, and I threw my father across the room. I will never forget the fear in his eyes when he saw me standing there, between him and my mother, my eyes glowing. He ran away that night, and didn’t return. My grandparents came that summer to visit, and father still hadn’t returned he had been gone for six months now. But even after all that time mother would still jump at shadows. I knew her uneasiness centered on me and I asked her if she was mad at me for sending daddy away. She told me of course not. but warned be that I was never to use my magic again. I was almost twelve when I realized she was afraid the townspeople would burn me at the stake if they found out I had powers. It was the summer that I first witnessed a witch burning in Tangier. Two years went by and I turned seven summers old, things had been going fine until that night, that horrible night that changed my life forever,” she said shuddering. Sinbad was still silent letting her collect her thoughts and continue. He was still holding her and absentmindedly burying his face into her hair. She sighed snuggling closer allowing his warmth to warm her chilled soul. “Father came back, after two years he came back, but he wasn’t alone, he had that priest with him, Xavier. I was stunned and Father grabbed me before I could react, handing me to Xavier. The priest was going to sacrifice me for my power; I could feel his intent. Mother tried to stop him but she just wasn’t strong enough to fight him. Father became enraged yelling fanatically that I was a witch and had to be destroyed. My mother made one final attempt to stop him; she hit him with a chair and broke it over his back. He barely even reacted and I will never forget the look in his eyes as he started to hit her and hit her…and hit her. I…I remember she started to cry. He would…usually stop when she started to cry, like it meant he had won his way,” Bryn said tears now streaming down her face.
“But he didn’t stop this time,” Sinbad said quietly his voice angry. Only a weak, cowardly man would do that to a woman, and in front of their child. Sinbad hoped that Donavan was enjoying his place in Hell right now.
“No he didn’t stop,” Bryn said just as quietly. “I watched him beat her until she didn’t move anymore, then he stood back and spat on her, like she was dirt. I…became angrier then I had ever been before, I somehow managed to break away from Xavier. I could feel my power building up inside me until finally it erupted like a volcano. My father was a cloud of ash by the time I was done with him,” Bryn said in horror and self- loathing.
Sinbad tightened his embrace on her briefly and said fiercely, “It wasn’t your fault Bryn, you were young, and he killed your mother. I would have done the same thing,” he added matter of factly, knowing it to be true.
“But I killed him Sinbad, in my rage and anger I killed him,” she replied and added, “I should have found another way, the lack of control I have over my powers is…dangerous.” Bryn raised her head and looked Sinbad in the eye. “I’m dangerous to be around Sinbad, maybe even evil,” she said in horror of the fact that she was capable of murder at such a young age.
The young captain gripped her shoulders fiercely and replied, “No Bryn you are not evil, you had no choice. Bryn listen to me you were seven years old, he was a full-grown man who probably outweighed you by two hundred pounds. He would have killed you.”
Bryn pulled away from him then standing up and replied uncertainly, “Maybe Sinbad maybe.” She still wasn’t sure about herself yet, the memory being the traumatic experience of spoiled childhood innocence. But the young witch had to admit that talking to the captain went a long way to alleviating the immense burden of guilt she had been carrying around with her for the past three days.
“Come on Sinbad lets get back to camp,” Bryn said spinning on her heels.
She proceeded him back to camp and he had just risen to his feet about to follow. The young captain of the Nomad took two steps after her and then everything went black. He was out cold and didn’t hear Bryn’s scream as she was carried off into the night.