Twelve – 01

[This post is from Kailey Astoris’s point of view.]

The once and future king.

The words slammed into her with the force of a charging stallion, like one of the warhorses that the Wild Hunt still kept and tended.  The prophesied once and future king.  King Arthur.  A myth—a legend.

Her mouth ran dry, her heart thudded painfully against her ribs.  She lived among myth and legend, albeit far removed from their original contexts.  Why was it so hard to believe that—

“Here?” she blurted before she could stop herself.  “You think he’s here?”

All eyes turned toward her—all eyes except her father’s, which remained steady on the lead rider, who looked up at her with surprise.

“Well, yes,” he said softly.  “At least, that’s where all of the hints and clues we’ve found have led us.”

“Kailey,” Matt said, his voice quiet but firm.  “Will you and Lin please escort our guests to the cottage set aside?  I believe Jacqueline and Jameson are there with their injured companion already.”  He finally turned to look toward them, his gaze landing on Phelan.  “Phelan, if you could stay, please.”

“Of course,” the once-and-current Taliesin murmured.  He carefully stepped around Kailey, who still stood frozen in front of the doorway, and slipped into the room.  He gestured slightly to the riders, then to Kailey.  “If you’ll follow her, she’ll show you a place where you can get cleaned up and get some rest that’s not on a forest floor or a roadside.”

“That would be most welcome,” the lead rider said, heaving himself to his feet.  There were deep circles under his eyes, as if decent sleep had been a rare thing of late.  “I think we could all use that.”

“We’ll have some food brought shortly,” Hecate said with a warm smile.

Kailey tried to suppress a shiver.

They’re looking for the once and future king and they think that they ‘ll find clues to who he is here?  Where to find him?  I don’t—

She cast a glance at Lin as the riders gathered themselves and their gear.  There was a sadness in his eyes that made her breath catch.

She cleared her throat and glanced at the riders.  “If you’ll follow me, please.”

She started walking, then, not looking back, trusting that they’d follow—trusting, at least for now.  She looked at Lin again.  He was still staring at her, worried, sad.

Was that what they were keeping from me?

She’d find out soon enough.

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