The world trembled beneath his feet, vibrating up through his body. Ogden paused mid-sentence in his conversation with Hethera. He furrowed his brow.
“What is it? What’s happened?” Hethera asked, touching his arm in concern.
A second tremble passed through the earth, pulsing up into his body. A building tension in his chest made him release the breath he hadn’t known he was holding. He reached down with a hesitant hand and placed it on the soft earth. Another shudder passed. This time, it seemed more like a relieved sigh than anything else. For several moments, he remained there, hand on the dirt, feeling the small pulses. They stopped as suddenly as they had come.
Hethera hadn’t moved, staring at him the entire time. Ogden looked up, meeting her questioning gray eyes with a small, worried smile. He turned his eyes to the glittering stars above them. She continued to stare at him with one brow raised. A look of impatience had settled over her face.
“Ogden, please, what’s happening? Why are you acting so strange?”
“You didn’t feel it?” He watched his wife scrunch her brow further. “It’s strange that you wouldn’t.”
“I felt it,” she answered. “Tell me what’s happening.”
Her eyes darted about the dark land. He watched her for a moment. It was as if she expected an immediate attack. He wished he could tell her one wasn’t coming. He had no idea what would happen now. He had no idea how They would retaliate. All he knew was that They would.
He rose and grabbed his wife’s hand. His entire hand enveloped hers. He led her into the house they were staying in. Ianen and Pralad were inside, sitting by the fire. Pralad’s eyes were focused on the other side of the room. Her face was pale and her eyes wide. Caraya stood there as a small child, no longer an infant. The same golden glow sat around her, only glowing stronger.
“Will you please explain what’s happening?” Hethera pulled his hand. Her eyes refused to leave the child who stood there, smiling at everyone. She was a graceful being.
“One of the false Gods is dead,” Ogden stated. “Hartland has received some of the power They took from it.”
“Yes. Hartland is healing,” Caraya’s small voice said. The child turned her glowing rose-colored eyes on Ogden. He couldn’t look away from her. “You will take me to the Kings Meet in the morning.”
Ogden gave a single nod. Hethera grabbed his hand again, pulling his attention from the child. He met his wife’s eyes. They searched his.
“I can’t explain any more than I already have. I don’t have the answers everyone seeks.” Even as he said it, he wasn’t certain it was true. He felt different. Empowered.
“How did you know what happened?” Ianen asked from where he sat. Not once had he moved since they had entered. Ogden wasn’t even certain if he’d reacted to Caraya changing into a young child.
Ogden clamped his jaw shut as Ianen scrutinized him. When Hethera gave his hand a loving squeeze, Ogden looked toward her. She gave him a small smile as if to encourage him to answer. He remained silent.
“He’s connected to Them. He would know if something changed,” his wife answered when he didn’t.
“You mean he’s one of Them,” Ianen accused. “If he’s one of Them, he’s part of the problem. He might…”
“How can you say such things?” Hethera interrupted. She shook her head at him. “They made him a Servant. That isn’t his fault. He accepted this Servitude to protect Hartland. To protect me. To protect you. He prevented people from dying in the war that They started.” Her voice wavered as she fought to stay in control of her emotions. He placed his hand on her shoulder. She sucked in a deep breath. “Ianen, you know this. Why are you suggesting such things?”
“Lady Hethera, I only…” Ianen sighed. “I wish you could see this as the rest of us do. I am sorry I upset you, but if he’s one of Them, he will have to make a decision. A decision you might not like.”
Tears slid down Hethera’s face. Ogden stepped in front of his wife, meeting her teary eyes. He placed his hands on her upper arms. She took in a few breaths, between sobs.
“We will discuss this tomorrow at the Kings Meet. There’s nothing we can decide now.” Ogden turned an annoyed look to Ianen. “If you need to voice this opinion, you’re welcome to do so at the Kings Meet.”
Ogden watched Ianen catch Hethera’s eyes. Something passed between them and Ianen’s harsh gaze softened. Ogden glanced back at his wife, but her eyes were focused on the ground now. It wasn’t the first time he had wondered what had happened during his time apart from Hethera. The two had grown close to one another. He knew her visions had interfered with her day to day life. Acen had told him his grandparents had started to live with them. Yet, they hadn’t left Lovic with her. He still wasn’t certain that had been a wise choice. Once more, he found his gaze lingering on Ianen.
“My presence isn’t necessary,” Ianen said, breaking the silence. “I spoke out of fear. I know you’re a good man. I know you’re protecting Hartland.”
Ogden caught uncertainty in the man’s eyes. He didn’t blame him. He was uncertain about everything as well. No one knew what the Gods had done to him to make him a Servant. That was, no one but the Gods.
Hethera wrapped her arm around his waist and rested her head on the side of his arm. She wore a distant look, filled with worry. Ogden glanced at her. Even now, whenever he looked at her, his heart swelled with love and pride. All he wanted in life was to spend his days with her. His choices hadn’t allowed him to. It was something he regretted daily.
“Tomorrow is going to be a long and trying day. I’d like to rest before then.”
He kissed the top of Hethera’s head before he left the small living area. On the first stair, he paused and his eyes connected with Caraya’s with uncertainty. She gave him a small smile before he finished the path to his room.