“Ardeth, I would like to point out I am still heavily injured while trying to defend our country…”
“Ho ho, you still haven’t answered my question, dear husband.”
“And I'm the father to your three children…”
“Do you need another pillow? It looks like you need another pillow.”
“Ardeth, I can’t breathe. Ardeth. ARDE-“
“So it’s that bad, huh?” says Ardeth while holding Marven’s hands. She has pull up a chair from the study table and is sitting beside his bed.
“Nope, bad is the equivalent of having the eight other kingdoms suddenly uniting together and invading us at the same time. This is worse, this is much worse.”
“Gods…” Ardeth lets go of Marven’s hands to cover her mouth, but she fails to stop her gasps of horror from escaping. “What are we going to do?”
“You are going to take the children and your parents and head as far away as possible. I am going to stay here.”
“You’re not coming with us?”
“I'm still a soldier. They would never allow me to abandon my duty.”
“But you’re injured.”
“Doesn't mean my mind has stop working. I can still plan, delegate, make strategies, give out orders.”
“Then I’ll stay with you.”
“Ardeth, the children… there’s no way they’ll survive what’s coming. I can’t guarantee their sa-“
“Then come with us!” Ardeth screams before burying her face in Marven’s chest, sobbing. All Marven could do is stroke her hair, trying his best to console her.”
“Ardeth, we don’t have a lot of time…”
It’s takes a while before Ardeth finally stops crying. “What do you need me to do?” she says while drying her tears.
“I need you to go home, pack only what you need and take the children and your parents and head east to the Drumvell Kingdom.”
“But I think the borders with the Drumvell Kingdom are closed now. Something about logging dispute.”
“They’re contesting with us over the rights for the Blackvayne Forest. Regardless, you need to find a way across and get to the port city of Veigfred. Try to buy passage on a ship and sail for the Heingull Island.”
“If you can’t cross the borders east into the Drumvell Kingdom, I need you to take the route south toward the Kingdom of Marak, then head east into the Kingdom of Nurani before trying to enter the Kingdom of Drumvell from there.”
“I understand. I have to make sure we get to the Heingull Island no matter what.”
“Good. Now, I hid something at the house...”
“Underneath the loose tile near the south-east corner of the kitchen.” Ardeth nods.
Marven blinks several times. It seems his secret hiding place isn't so secret after all. “There are some money I hid in there in case of emergency. Also, there’s a badge in there. A small piece of metal that has the image of nine swords.”
“The Order of Enahel. I didn't know you used to be a knight.”
“It’s not mine, long story. Anyway that’s not important. Just take the money and use the badge only if you have to. There’s no guarantee it will work, but it’s better than nothing.”
“How about the rest of the medals?”
“Leave them, you’ll probably get in more trouble if you are seen with them in another country. After all, I got most of the medals by killing lots of Drumvell soldiers.”
Ardeth nods her head again in understanding.
“I’ll try to make my way to you when this is over.”
“Don’t make promises you can’t keep.” Ardeth strokes his cheek lovingly.
Marven grasps her hands and holds them tightly. “I will find you again. Through hell and high water I will find you. This I swear.” Marven says while looking into Ardeth’s eyes.
“I’ll kill you if don’t.” Ardeth smiles.
“I know.” Marven smiles back. Knowing his wife, there’s a big possibility that could happen.
“Do you want to see the children before we leave?”
“No, there’s not enough time.”
“Then you better make it up to them the next time we met.” Ardeth kisses Marrven on the lips and forehead.
“Till next time.” Marven says to Ardeth before she turns and leaves without looking back.
“I'm sorry Ardeth…” Marven says again after he is sure Ardeth has truly left the room.
The truth is, Marven didn't want to see his children not because there wasn't enough time. But because he would be tempted to follow them if he did. Marven knows that he is in no condition to travel and he will only slow them down.
And Marven has this sinking feeling that if they failed to stop the Razors now, it won’t matter where they go or how far they run.
Deek enters the room and watches Marven. Something is still troubling that man, but he seems to be keeping it in for now, perhaps out of respect for Marven who sent his family away but chose to stay.
“Let’s go Deek. We have much work to do.”
“Okay Deek, I think you’re going to have to carry me to the war room because I can barely stand.”
We will now return to the main story tomorrow... or the next day. Seriously, I'm being swamped at work now and it's hard to find time to write.