SCARS OF THE SEA / book two /// chapter 73 / broken brana
Posted April 14th, 2018 by Garrett
in a city drinking coffee
| 73 |
When her body hit the ground, every spirit in that canyon died for a stopped heartbeat. Every eye watched as her little broken body shattered against the rock. As the Savage who had pushed her tilted his head back and laughed. And every person came back to life a second later, every heart started pounding with anger and passion.
Finn felt a tingle in the air, something more powerful than the devastating, aching emptiness that clawed at his mind.
A cumulative knowledge that passed through everyone’s mind.
The Savages were going to die.
The one laughing was the first to go down.
Jack tilted his head and a fleet of razor-sharp stalagmites soared through the air. They tore his body to shreds, his blood and flesh splattering on Phillip. His messy death was the only sound in the canyons.
Castor watched with wide, glassy eyes.
Finn didn’t realize he was crying until a tear dribbled into his mouth.
Then chaos erupted.
If he thought that they were fighting before, then he had been wrong. They were warming up.
Finn learned the true meaning of a revolution as those freed women turned on their masters, shredding them to pieces. As waves of slaves with broken bonds turned on the thousands of Savages, leaving blood and bones behind, nothing to fight with but their overgrown fingernails and their fury.
So much commotion that Finn couldn’t even get to Brana’s body. The packed canyon pushed and shoved and spit him every which way. Blood and screams and swords and fists and wild-eyed women working together to take down the Savages.
Finn hoped they fought this well against the Witches.
He watched as they pinned down a writhing man and used a sword to do unspeakable things to him. Ending the torture with a slow beheading.
He watched all around as the Savages kept coming in waves but the thousands of angry slaves fought back. Defended themselves. Did every unspeakable thing the Savages had done to them over the years.
Finn found a ledge above it all and climbed up, sitting so that he could watch and cry.
He cried for the women, for their freedom and their avenged anger. For everything they had endured.
He cried, hoping that this violence, their revenge on the Savage kind, was worth it for them. That the faces of the men they killed wouldn’t haunt their dreams. They they would look back on this and that their passion would be reignited, but extinguished.
He cried because of Brana. Broken Brana, on the edge of the battlefield. After it was won, Finn would go over there. He watched now as everyone, even the Savages, were careful to avoid that spot where her body had landed.
He hung his head and sobbed, his shoulders shaking, as he imagined what Ciara’s face would look like when he told her that her little sister was dead.
Castor climbed the canyon wall on swaying rope ladders and pulled himself over the edge of the plateau.
The bastard was still there, bound up with one Savage at his side.
Castor clutched his sword, his shoes crunching on the snow-frosted rock.
The Savage turned his head at the sound of Castor approaching. He had a rough face and his mouth moved.
He was talking.
Castor squinted at the scene. Phillip’s gag was on the ground, and he was talking, too. His hands and feet were still tied up, but he was conversing with the Savage that had captured him.
That was it.
Castor broke into a run, raising his sword. The Savage guarding Phillip blocked with his own scimitar seconds before Castor ever swung his blade. Steel met steel and Castor’s arms cried out at the impact. He pulled back and swung again, his blade slicing through flurries of snow as they began to fall.
They jumped back and forth, swinging and dodging and parrying, a flurry of swords.
The Savage lunged for him and Castor rolled to the side, snow clinging to his hair and clothes.
That was his moment. The Savage was exposed as he gathered himself to stand up.
Castor lunged and swung and—
His blade sank into the man’s side.
“Konin!” Phillip screamed, lurching forward and landing face-first in the snow. He used his elbows to propel himself inch-by-inch toward the Savage.
Konin squirmed like a dying animal, shattering the perfectly smooth blanket of snow—the white that turned wine-red as he bled out.
Castor raised his blade.
“Get away from him,” he said to Phillip.
Phillip shivered, scooting backwards. Konin twitched.
“How do you know him?” Castor asked, stepping over the body and towards the man he could barely look at. The one whose face made every muscle in his body want to drive that blade through his chest.
“We…we worked together…” Phillip said, backing toward the edge.
“When you were a Savage?”
“Yes, when I was a Savage.”
Castor took another slow, steady step. Phillip was feet away from the edge now. If he leaned back too far he would fall.
“Jump,” Castor said.
“You heard me. Jump.”
Phillip looked over his shoulder at the stomach-turning drop. He shook his head, his frightened breath dissipating in the air.
Castor had no idea how Brana had mustered the courage to deliver a speech like she had. Looking over the edge, it took all of Castor’s willpower not to turn around and vomit.
“I can’t,” Phillip said.
“Do it or I’ll kick you off, you worthless bastard!” Castor yelled, his voice ringing with the echo of battle. He held out his sword, pointing it at Phillip.
“Castor,” a cool voice said.
“He’s not going to jump. We’re not going to make him. We’re taking him with us for Ciara to deal with.”
Castor turned over his shoulder and saw the copper-haired man standing with his hands in his pockets. He looked unscathed by the battle compared to Castor’s random cuts and torn clothes.
Jack’s red-rimmed eyes skimmed over Konin’s dying body.
Hours later, after the Savages had either all died off or ran away, the freed slaves meandered through the canyons, scavenging what they can off their former masters’ bodies.
Finn, Castor, and Jack had found Brana’s body.
Jack scooped her up, her limbs flopping to the side, her head hanging so unrealistically far back.
It was all Castor could do not to break into tears right then.
They went to the top of the plateau and looked at the women that filled every crevice of the canyons for miles and miles.
Finn hoped news traveled fast.
“Women!” He yelled. “Free women!”
No one paid him any attention.
He opened his mouth to yell again, but a boulder suddenly tore itself out of the side of the canyon and smashed against the land near them, sending tremors for miles. Everyone turned to them.
“I am Prince Finn Hadar. I fight for good. I fight for freedom. It is because of you all that your shackles are now broken, however I am going to ask you a favor. Fight for King Roku of Kaede. Be his army. A Witch has taken over Berea and is a threat to everyone on the continent. So I am going to ask you to fight. Tonight, we are staying in the forest a mile south of here. Tomorrow, at dawn, we leave for Acantha. When we shed blood on the city of Berea, I am going to be there in the thick of battle. Where will you be? If you wish to join the fight, come to the forest.”
He didn’t wait to see how they reacted. He turned around and trudged through the snow.
It was night when they finished digging her grave.
Piles of dirt sat beside the empty black hole in the earth, waiting to house Brana until she decayed.
Jack lifted her body and her little hand fell to the side, limp and pale and cold.
They’d said their goodbyes. They’d cried until their eyes were dry.
Still, it felt wrong to lower her into the ground without Ciara there.
Finn watched it all and knew that it wasn’t right. Brana’s sister should be there to help dig her grave, to lower her into the ground, to say her final goodbyes. She shouldn’t find out about it from Finn.
Finn squeezed his eyes shut, trying to force reality away. Why did it have to happen? He wanted to scream. He wanted to punch a tree. He wanted to find a sword and drive it between Phillip’s ribs.
But he couldn’t.
All he could do was cry and stare. Even as slaves piled into the forest, stretching so far that their bodies blended with the darkness. It was because of her they had won. Because of her they might actually choose to join Ejiri’s army and fight against Serilda, risking their own lives because a little girl died for them.
Maybe they would remember her speech in their last moments, when their fates rested in the hands of the Witches.
Jack settled her in the bottom of the grave and then the men began scooping the dirt back.
It was weird, watching scoop by scoop as dirt scattered across Brana’s body—covering her feet, then her legs, then her chest, then her face. And then she was gone.
Finn realized, with a haunting clarity, that he would never see Brana again.
Neither would Ciara.
When they were done, when they had cried over the filled grave, they all laid out their bedrolls a few yards away from where she rested beneath the earth. Finn finished unrolling his when he saw something glimmer in the snow beside her grave. He went to see what it was, his fingers numb as they dug through the snow to find it.
Finally, he grabbed it between his two fingers and pulled it up.
A gold coin with the Euanthean print.
It must’ve fallen off of Brana’s body.
Why did she have a gold coin from Euanthe? Unless…
Finn remembered a hot day in a castle far away when he’d given a sack of coins to a girl and told her to buy her brother and sister something nice.
She must’ve given Brana a coin all to herself.
And Brana had…
Finn wiped at his eyes, holding the coin closer to inspect it.
Brana had kept it the whole time. Through everything. Through her family’s death and slavery and traveling across the country. She’d carried it to death and beyond.
It had been her hope, glimmering and gold and whispering to her that everything was going to be okay.
He knelt beside her grave and put a hand on the upturned dirt.
“Goodnight, Brana,” he whispered. His tears fed the soil.
He rose and climbed onto his bedroll, pulling the scratchy cover over his body. All night he held onto that coin, rubbing his finger over its surface, recalling all the times he’d been around Brana. She’d been carrying this with her all along.
Finn cried and chuckled and stayed silent all throughout the night.
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