*Links to previous parts at bottom!*

Despite what Kenno had said, Leyon did return the next morning, very early. He brought more food and water, and Kenno ate it in silence, not wanting to accept help, but knowing that he needed it if he was going to continue to survive.

That evening, Rayad came again.

When Leyon unlocked the door the next morning, Kenno was lying flat on the ground, his face covered in blood. Leyon rushed to his side and quickly untied his hands and removed the gag. “Are you okay?” he asked.

What a stupid question. It was clear that he was anything but okay. But Kenno let out an exhausted laugh. “I won,” he said. The words he’d been waiting to say all night.

“What?” Leyon questioned.

Kenno rolled onto his back with difficulty and exhaled, letting his shoulders relax. “They were here,” he said. “Doing…this. Worse than before. Then Rayad suddenly told them to stop. He said it wasn’t going to work. He’s done trying to get me to join them.”

Some victory. Unexpectedly, tears pressed behind Kenno’s eyes, but he forced them back. “But now I don’t know if he’s just going to let me die,” he said, forcing himself to state his fear matter-of-factly.

“He won’t,” Leyon responded immediately. “You’re too valuable.”

“Rayad gave up all hope I would join him,” Kenno said, “and he’s right. I won't. It would be far safer for him to kill me.”

Leyon didn’t answer. Kenno closed his eyes, feeling his back press into the hard floor. “Tell me the truth,” he said. “What do you think he’ll do?”

Kenno counted three of Leyon’s quiet breaths before the man answered. “He’s unpredictable,” he said. “He told me once that he never kills needlessly—moments after he murdered…someone I cared about.”

Leyon had lost someone to Rayad too? No, Kenno reminded himself. Only if it wasn’t a lie.

“If he thinks it’s necessary,” Leyon continued, “he won’t hesitate to do it. But if he thinks it can be avoided in any way….” Leyon sighed. “I think he pretends even to himself that he has some kind of moral standard. He might try to keep you alive if he can. It depends on what he considers the benefits and dangers of keeping you here.”

“So either he’ll kill me now,” Kenno said, “or he’ll keep me captive here until I die on my own.”

Leyon didn’t respond, but Kenno knew he was right. “This is kathral,” Kenno muttered, turning over onto his stomach and carefully resting his injured face on his hands.

He knew he shouldn't ask a question like this, but at the moment Kenno didn't really care. So he asked, “Who did he kill?”

A few seconds passed before Leyon said, “My daughter.”

“Tell me about her,” Kenno said. Tell me about anything to help me forget that I might die tomorrow. That I might die today.

Quietly, Leyon said, “Her name was Anla. Named after the air element. She was bright and cheerful, always ready with a smile for anyone who came her way.”

Kenno could hear the tightness in Leyon’s voice. The grief. If Leyon was acting, he was good. But Kenno couldn’t take the chance of believing him. In order to protect Lilla and Tole, he would never be able to.

“She was a caster, too,” Leyon continued. “Elense was her favorite element. She was quick and knew how to use her agility, though she never had a chance to get the hang of weapons. But that wasn’t what she cared about. She just wanted to…to enjoy life. To share the joy she was feeling.”

Leyon stopped. Kenno said quietly, “She sounds amazing.” The words were a feeble excuse for the questions he had no right to ask.

“Yes,” Leyon murmured. “She was.”

They sat there together for a few more minutes. Leyon gave Kenno the food he’d brought, and when Kenno finished eating, Leyon stood up. Kenno sat slowly, every motion shooting pain through his body, and offered his hands for Leyon to tie.

As Leyon tightened the cord around Kenno’s wrists, he said, “I’ll come back tomorrow.”

Though he considered protesting, this time Kenno didn’t argue with him.


Thanks for reading!! (Or if you're here for the links to the first parts, thanks for being willing to read ❤️) I'd love to hear any comments you have. And stay tuned for the next part!

Read Part 1 here

Read Part 2 here