The day before Anaxandra had gone missing Devlin had gotten angry with her because she wanted to keep the lamp lit all night. Wasting the oil, he had said to her. He had been having a rough day; his friends from school were constantly out of touch with him because they could still afford to go to school, the soup kitchen had been extremely busy because it was a Friday and Noralie had been fussing and crying over even the slightest provocation. By the time night came, Guineviva had gone straight to sleep and Devlin had lost all his patients. When Ana insisted on leaving the light on, keeping him awake he had shouted at her to take the light outside or to turn it off. He knew she was afraid of the dark but he was getting tired of it, she was twelve years old, too old for such childish fears. For years, Devlin had blamed himself for Ana’s disappearance and for years, he had worked to find her, turning up nothing. He had only just given up on any hope of finding her when she reappeared.
After seven years, the first image he had of his sister was of her sitting in a silent temple, with blood covering her clothes, hands, face and hair while she held a gun to her own head and cried because she wasn’t dead yet. He wanted to accept Ana again as easily as Noralie had but she was too... different. Now Devlin lay on one of the benches in the life boat cursing himself. Now the last image of his sister he will ever have was that image of her heart broken face as he tried to convince her to leave a man for dead. All this time Devlin had convinced himself Ana’s soul had died when her mind welcomed in Nenavysta Hradi he had told himself her death was inevitable and that when she did die he wouldn’t care. Nevertheless, his heart ached. He wanted to turn back time, pull Ana onto the lifeboat, and make sure she was safe like a good brother should have. He wanted to turn back time and tell Ana he did not mind if she kept the light on, that he did not mind.
“Land!” shouted Ragnar. He opened his eyes and sat up. The survivors all looked in the direction Ragnar was pointing. A small spit of an island with trees growing all over. There were two ores in the boat, manned by Nick, Simon, Tybalt and Benedict. The men began working frantically to steer the boat towards the island. They could see bits of the shipwreck on the beach, which made Devlin’s gut tighten. All he could imagine was walking on that pristine beach and having Ana’s corpse washing up onto the shore.
“We will see what we can scavenge from the remains and pray that there is a compass. We sailed east, away from Existence right?” Tybalt asked.
“Sounds right,” said Bruno.
The waves helped bring them into shore, they hoped out of the boat and did their best to drag it a safe distance away from the water. Then it was time to explore the island.
Kaspar didn’t know the first thing about how to survive on his own. He liked to think that being in the Legion, even for a few weeks, had toughened him up, but he knew better. Ana had managed to find her huge knife thing and now Kaspar’s number one priority was to find something to use to break his shackles. Then he wanted to find a source of fresh water, because he was not drinking salty seawater. He kicked a tiny shell as he walked, then he watched it walk away from him.
The boxes he had found on his half of the beach had nothing as useful as a machete in them. He was trying to sort through his thoughts, trying to figure out what he could do while his hands were bound, and what should be his top priority. He was walking the perimeter of the beach, not very far but he counted out his strides as he went. He was at two hundred and forty seven when he looked up. He saw the lifeboat.
He turned and ran as fast as he could. Resisting the urge to call out Ana’s name. He did not know why he was acting so scared. It was not in their best interest to murder him at the moment unless they were resorting to cannibalism, which he doubted they were hungry enough for. There was something about being trapped on an unknown isle with the men who had tried to kill him that made him incredibly uncomfortable.
When he reached the spot where Ana had drawn a line in the sand he stopped and looked for something to indicate where she was. He could not see foot prints in the sand and she was nowhere to be see.
“Ana?” he said at his normal volume.
He felt like a child but he did not know what else to do. He moved closer to the tree line and tried to jog quietly as he looked for her. He kept saying her name but he started saying it quieter as he feared he might bump into one of the men from the boat. He stumbled over a rock and saw what looked like knife gouges on a tree. He went into the forest in a slight crouch as he entered the thick temperate rainforest. About twenty paces into the forest he found another marking similar to the one he had passed. He realized it was a tally. The first she had mark with one gouge, this with two. He walked farther into the forest following what looked to him like a path beaten down by feet and found another, with three tally marks.
Kaspar followed the trail until he reached a tree marked with seven tallies when he stopped to rest. He started wishing he had brought the water with him when he heard the snapping of a tree branch and looked up.
“Kaspar, what do you think you’re doing?” Ana asked, Kaspar felt relief wash through him and probably would have hugged her if the shackles did not bind his hands.
“There is a boat on the beach. Its empty but it looked like it was dragged away from the water,” he reported to her. She blinked and quickly turned so he could not see her expression. She looked as if she was deep in thought, she pulled her gloves out of her pocket and pulled them on covering her scars and she buttoned the top few buttons on her blouse she had undone for comfort and put her coat back on. It was midday and looking at her Kaspar wondered if she was boiling alive under all the clothing she had on, she pulled her hair tie out and combed it with her fingers.
“Show me where the boat is,” she said in a neutral tone.
“Is everything alright?” he asked trying to see her face.
“I’m stranded on a fucking island with you, I’m not ok and you shouldn’t be either,” she snapped tramping her way back down the path she had made sliding the knife-thing into her coat and out of sight. Kaspar walked behind her in silence. He thought he saw something in his peripheral vision and stopped walking to look. Ana made no note of his stopping and continued to walk. Kaspar started walking again; slowly analyzing the forest for the disturbance, he was certain he noticed.
He heard the snapping of a twig. Ana assumed it had been him and didn’t stop but Kaspar’s head flew up and he saw a face in the bushes, concealed from where Ana stood by a small shrub but from where Kaspar was he could clearly make out the face of the man how had tried to choke Ana in the library... and he had a gun. Kaspar’s heart skipped a beat when he saw the man, Tybalt, raise the gun so it pointed at Ana.
Adrenaline shot through his veins and for a moment time slowed. He ran down the path faster then he’d ever run before, Ana turned to look for what had caused his alarm and froze when she saw the gun.
“No!” Kaspar shouted diving for her. He heard a shot just as his hands made contact with her shoulder and they tumbled to the ground. He landed on top of her and scrambled trying to get up when he felt blood, trickling down his cheek. He reached and felt the graze just under his left temple and he gasped.
“Kaspar, you’re...” Ana started to say when another shot was fired and she got her wits about her. She grabbed his hand a started an awkward crouch-run to try and escape their attacker. Kaspar followed but being taller than Ana scrunching his frame to hide bellow ferns and shrubs was much more a challenge for him then it was for her. Another shot fired and a curse. Ana stood letting go of his hand and breaking out into a full out sprint through the forest, Kaspar followed and couldn’t help taking notice of a limp Ana had. Almost unnoticeable when she was walking but when she ran he would be surprised if it did not cause her agony.
She broke the tree line and sprinted for the rocks at the edge of the water and ducked behind one, she reached and grabbed Kaspar’s forearm and pulled him beside her.
“Be silent,” she whispered. Kaspar nodded and tried to hold his breath to keep from giving them away with his hyperventilating. Ana grabbed his chin and turned his face so she could see the bullet graze. A quick inspection and she gestured something that told him it was just a scratch. They stood with their backs to the rock for about twenty minutes before Ana glanced around and began moving. She motioned for Kaspar to stay behind her and he obeyed. She rounded the corner of the rock and crept away from the rock.
Kaspar paused, listening.
“I hear their voices,” he whispered. She shot him a glare that told him to shut up and that she could hear the as well. She listened attentively, creeping silently towards where they had exited the forest. Kaspar wanted to shake her and scream that those men had tried to kill them and she was crazy for going back to where they had been shot at. She crept onwards stopped, listened then continued, this time with a grin playing on her lips.
“What do you mean you couldn’t see what you were shooting at!” Devlin roared. Ana’s grin broadened and she straightened her back and waltzed right into the small clearing.
“Devlin,” she said throwing her arms around her brother and smiling. “Thank Order it was you. Kaspar and I were walking and we heard gunshots, one nicked his cheek. I was scared there were other people on this island,” she laughed with relief. Kaspar walked out of the brushes feeling extremely uncomfortable.
“Tybalt, you’ve got to look before you shoot! You could have killed them!” Devlin shouted before turning to looked at Ana and Kaspar.
“How did you get here?” he asked.
“We jumped ship before the entire thing caught fire and we, drifted here,” she waved to Kaspar.
“So we are going to die here for nothing?” asked Bruno.
“No... not for...” Ana started to say, tripping over her words.
“Leave it Bruno. I don’t know about you guys but I feel a lot better knowing that we didn't murder anyone,” he said with a meaningful glance towards Tybalt.
“So you are ok with the fact that we will never go home?” Nick asked. All the men started shouting at each other over their doom and being trapped on the island. Devlin tried to get their attention and to maintain some order but no one was listening to him.
“We need to set up a shelter before sun down,” Ana whispered in his ear.
“EVERYONE! We will talk later but no one is going anywhere tonight so we might as well get settled. First thing is we’ll need a shelter,. I’m not sleeping on the forest floor with who knows what,” Devlin said and they all got to work. Kaspar resisted the urge to glare at Tybalt or to take Ana aside and talk to her about what she was doing.
He did not understand what was happening with the people from Unther but whatever it was, it was not right to him.