Norida~ Veangence; HauntedMature

  "Norida!" Griever's voice chimed from where he was standing in front of Jem's tent. He motioned me over, allowing me to follow him into her hut. When we walked in, Jem was helping Kiara carve arrows. The Night Hawks that use bows try to retrieve them after they have been dispatched, but we still lose them often, so it is important to refill our stock constantly.

  Shaking her head, Jem said, "I still can't believe she's done this. Kate hardly ever listens to me anymore."

  "I know it seems bad now, but we'll get her back. So maybe the operation with the Ball didn't go quite as planned, but at--"

  "That's not what I meant!" Jem cut Griever off. I almost jumped from Jem's sudden mood change. After a moment of tense silence, she calmed herself. "I apologize, it's just that. . . I wasn't talking about the Ball. Even with her capture, Kate would have called that a success. What I meant to say was that it seems that she has ceased hearing words of caution. She no longer heads my warnings. A suitable example of this is the raid that she and Griever" -- she gave him a pointed glance -- "led a week or so before our operation. Kate. . . She got careless. And now look what's happened."

  From the corner of my eye, I noticed Griever looking at me, almost as if he were pondering something.

  "What?" I asked quietly. He only shook his head in response. Shrugging my shoulders, I looked cautiously out the doorway of the tent to make sure no one was listening to us. Scanning the campgrounds with my cat-like vision, I could see many details that mere humans could not. I skimmed the entire scene a few times, making sure I hadn't missed anything. Abruptly, something caught my eye. Focusing in on a certain bush across the camp from us, I saw a glimpse of a face-- a little girl's face. Ali, I thought with a sigh.
  Kiara looked up from her work to give me a questioning gaze. "Something wrong?"

  I crossed my arms and looked between the three of them. "We're being watched. . . by a certain someone." It was my turn to put Griever on the spot. All three of us stared him down until he finally cracked.

  "It isn't my job to watch her all the time!" He threw his hands up, exasperated.

  I gave him a snooty look. "Well, I had to watch her the whole first month she was here. I don't see what you're complaining about."

  Griever opened his mouth to repent my accusations, but Jem hushed him. "If that little girl's stalking us again, then we'll just have to keep ourselves from being so recklessly loud." She waited a moment, then glared at Griever for intimidation. "Right?" He nodded. She turned and did the same to me. "Are we in agreement, Norida?" Stubborn as I was, Jem knew how to scare people. Reluctantly, I nodded. "Good. Then shall we move on?"

  "Yes ma'am," I said.

  Jem went back to her work at the table with Kiara. "What did we find from the raid yesterday?"

  Griever raised his hand for a moment, as if to be called upon, and then put it back down. "Good ol' Captain said that Kate is being held in a chamber somewhere in the Sheriff's castle that can only be accessed through the Marshal's barracks."

  "Well done Griever, that is vital information to have," Jem said with an approving look. For a second, Greiever almost had a look of. . . relief.

  I nodded in thought as my mind took that new information in. So they had taken her somewhere different than where I had been kept. But if her location was in the Sheriff's quarters, then she couldn't have been very far from where I was held captive. Abruptly then, a shiver went down m back as I thought of what torture she had to be going through. The slight fear and adrenaline I felt was also mixed with anger. When I got my hands on the Corin Twynam, I would repay him for everything he'd done to me-- my parents, death threats, Kate's torment. . .

  "Norida? Norida! Snap out of it already." Griever's voice came to me. His hands were on my shoulders, shaking me. My mind came back to the present as I shook my head and unclenched my hands from balling up into fists. "Hey, are you all right? You seemed haunted by something."

  Looking up at him with sincere determination in my eyes, I replied, "Haunted only by the reality of what cannot be changed. But I will find her. And we'll get her back. That is my promise to the Night Hawks."

  He took a step back, seeming surprised at my sudden change. After a moment of silence, his eyes became brighter with intensity and motivation. My words had reached him and brought out the same light that ignited the flame of veangence that I had. Jem looked at me, then at Griever, then back at me. After a moment, she nodded in understanding. Maybe she didn't have the same experience against Twynam that we had, but she knew our motivations were justified. Besides, there was a mutual grudge that all Night Hawks had against the Marshal for taking out leader, especially that Jem shared with us.

  Kiara stood, unfreezing us. "Norida, do you have any intel besides Kate's whereabouts?"

  I came back into focus, nodding. "Yes, from the raid I collected from a Sheriff's guard that Kate was having medical treatment, against the Sheriff's wishes, for burns and bruises."

  "So they definitely have been tormenting her then," Jem scoffed with a look of hatred.

  "So it seems," Kiara replied quietly. "Do you know exactly where she was burned? Her face. . . ?" Griever shuddered.

  I sighed. "We can't be sure, but it's possible." We were beginning to lose hope, I could feel it. The Hawks were losing ground. That Marshal had finally found our weak spot. Shaking the thought out of my head, I continued. "Also, I have. . ." I trailed off, not wanting to believe my own knowledge.

  Kiara gave a look of concern. Not so for Jem, as she was too busy trying to keep herself calm again. Griever put his hand on my shoulder. "What is it, Norida? We have to know."

  I kept my eyes at the ground, as if I were mourning. This was surely the thing that haunted me the most, my newest reason for wanting to avenge our great leader. Taking a deep breath, I slowly lifted my eyes to meet everyone's gaze. Painstakingly, I said, "Night Hawks have recently gotten intel from villagers as to Kate's execution date."

  Jem let out a tensed breath. She held fast to her self-control, asking one final question. "What is the arranged date?"

  Regretfully, I declared:


The End

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