Morath had no recourse. The look that passed between her and Yoran told him what he needed to know.
Yoran looked at his wife, broken on the ground, despair engulfing her like a gray veil. His daughters were behind them, crying—even Sian, the strong one, was shedding silent tears.
“Natalia,” he whispered and kneeled next to his wife. “Look at me.” He lifted up her chin. Those eyes, he thought. Those beautiful green eyes watching him lovingly. Despite Natalia’s sorrow, he could still see the love behind it, and his heart beat a little faster.
“Yoran, please, there must be a way,” she pleaded.
“Yes, there is a way.” He looked her in the eye and smiled sadly.
“No, Yoran,” Natalia cried. Deep down she knew she had to choose between the only two men in her life. Her son or her husband? An impossible choice, yet one she had no time to ponder. Not that more time would make it any easier. So she decided.
“Oh, Yoran… Promise you’ll come back to us. You’re a fighter, Yoran, you can make it out alive. We can all be happy together again,” she said with a mix of hope and defeat in her eyes.
Yoran nodded, smiled, and kissed her forehead. Then he looked at his daughters. Marci and Bethany ran to him, wailing, and hugged him tight.
“Everything’s going to be alright. You have to be brave for your mother and for each other, ok?” But the smile on his lips never touched his eyes. “I’m going to be just fine, don’t you worry about me for a second,” he said, trying to escape their embrace. He was finally able to force their arms off, and pushed them away.
He turned toward Sian, smiled, and nodded goodbye. She immediately skipped over the space between them, and hugged him. “I forgive you, Dad,” she whispered, and it was the first time he really wavered in his decision.
“I love you, Sian. Take care of your sisters and brother for me.”
With a nod from Morath, who had used her Fae circle to summon back the ship, Yoran walked away under his family’s watch and stopped in the middle of the round spot of light projected by the beam that had taken his son. The beam carried him away and mid-way, he saw the second beam transporting his son back to his wife’s arms. He watched him, detached, and for a moment, he allowed himself to dream about what could have been.
But that was just a dream. And he had a mission to fulfill. A mission both sides thought was theirs. Only Yoran knew the truth.
“Protector Sumner,” he heard as soon as he arrived on the ship. “Welcome aboard Sir,” the ship’s commander saluted, with all the men around him saluting as well.
“At ease, Commander,” he ordered. “Took you long enough,” he said with a smirk, and walked past the men, toward the ship’s command center.