Fortitudine VincimusMature

Chapter Two

     “Have you ever killed anyone?” Tory leaned against the beige brick building, a glossy Coors Light sign plastered a few feet above her head. She twirled the straw intended for her slushy on her hand, weaving it through her long deft fingers as she awaited her cousin’s answer.

     Kahlan chewed thoughtfully on the rubbery Peach Ring with her back molars. She licked the excess sugar from the tips of her fingers and finally nodded. “Last Christmas Eve I was given a choice by my older brother who was trying to give me a lesson about ‘power’. Either I could let one of my friends die, someone who was asking me to choose him…or three complete strangers who were begging me to spare their lives.” Kahlan swallowed. Her left hand was wedged in to the pocket of her jeans. Out of habit she fiddled with the smooth stone she often kept to soothe her worries.  “So in the end, I chose to let my friend die so that in all, more would be spared.”

     The O’Rourke girl stared at her cousin disbelievingly but Kahlan held her gaze. Her eyes were steady and like whenever she was serious, reflecting with the same intensity as a hawk’s would. “Fable 3 Tory…deep stuff.” She broke out in to a wide grin.

     Tory laughed so hard that the back of her head hit the brick wall with a large SMACK! Of course, that only got the two of them laughing with even more enthusiasm. Kahlan clutched at the stitch in her side, almost dropping the warped colored contents of her clear plastic Cumberland Farms cup all over the grimy sidewalk. She wiped the tears from the corner of her eyes.

     “Why do you ask?”

     “You screaming those threats the other day at Carynn Blackwater surprised me.” Tory admitted. “You’re not usually one to make a threat you aren’t prepared to follow through on.”

     Kahlan shrugged. “I was angry.”

     “I’ve seen you angry. Kahlan McDara angry is when someone wakes you up on the weekend before ten in the morning and you hurl something heavy at her. But that…that wasn’t Kahlan McDara angry: nah, that was full force unbridled rage. You could have been me, to be honest.” Tory took a sip and wiped her mouth. “Is that how I always look when I get all intense? Like I could blow something up just by looking at it?” She chuckled. “There’s no better boost of energy, I’ll tell you that. Not even Dunkin’.”

     “Better than what?”

     The cousins pivoted swiftly at the sound of the voice.

       Stripped from her padding and the usual black war paint washed clean from beneath her eyes, Serenity Carey looked like a porcelain doll: She had long dark brown hair was normally held off her neck in a simple black plastic clip, full lips and a natural subtle pinkish blush to her cheeks. Today she was dressed in a pair of cut off jean shorts with a three-quarter sleeved cream and light grey stripped shirt.

     “Whoa! Calm down you two.” Serenity grinned. “We’re on the east side right now. No need to be so tense.”

     Kahlan had her knife half out. She slowly slid it back in to her pocket. She exhaled slowly, forcing the tension from her upper body. It felt as if her heart had been flash frozen and was slowly, painfully trying to thaw. “As if the Blackwater family honors rules.” She muttered.  

     “So how are you two feeling?” Serenity’s hazel eyes flicked down to Tory’s bound wrist.

     “It’s stronger.” Tory said firmly. “And Kay’s head hasn’t fallen off, so we’re fine. No duct tape needed.”

     “Good, that’s really good news.” Serenity’s cast a sidelong glance down the sidewalk. “Where’s the rest of the Clover?”

     “I can’t account for my brother, but I think Terra is at the library working on her research paper.” Kahlan checked her phone. “She’s meeting up with us in about an hour.”

     Serenity nodded before breaking in to a wide smile. “You two must be excited for later.” She clapped each of them on the shoulder. “Don’t worry: we got you something really,reallygood.”

     Kahlan took the ‘we’ to mean the three captains, who like the Clover people tended to lump together when addressing them in conversation. The three were of a similar age as Laila and Aislin, all five of them separated only by a few months. Julie Fields was the youngest: almost a full year younger than T.D. who stood as the oldest in that age group.

     The rest of the Valhalla Knights roster was made up of girls closer to the Kahlan and Tory; Cara Field, Emma O'Neil, Rose McAden,  Selena Carey who was Serenity’s little sister and Celeste Helsingr, who was the only outsider they’d allowed in. All of whom were expected to show up at the Céilí that night.

Tory felt her phone vibrate softly in her side pocket. “This may be Terra.” But only moments after her eyes scanned the screen Tory’s eyebrows stitched together and she forcefully snapped her phone shut. “What did I tell you?” She asked, her teeth gritting.

“Problem?” Serenity’s eyes narrowed. “Who was that?”

“Cara.” Tory raked her fingers through her loose blonde hair. “Apparently she looked out her window a little while ago and saw a few of our friends cross boundaries.” Her hands curled in to fists, even though the bound one began to throb when she did so.

Cara Field, Julie’s younger cousin lived right at the edge of McDara-O’Rourke territory and was usually the first to alert the other if trouble arose.

“Did she say who?” Kahlan asked and shrugged her shoulders. “May not even be worth the trouble.” She arched her eyebrows and ran her tongue across her teeth. “Though, of course…”

Tory didn’t need to hear the rest of her cousin’s sentence. She could feel Kahlan’s excitement as if it was vibrating through the air, thunder without sound. “Ah, and here I thought you were going to be boring.” She flashed her cousin a grin that Kahlan returned with her usual tight lipped smirk.

 But Serenity’s hazel eyes had darkened, just as Aislin’s had back at the Céilí. “Let me call T.D. and Julie. You guys should head back.” Her look softened. “Don’t get yourselves involved in this cumainn, not on your birthday. Plus we have practice in the morning; T.D. will kill you if you two get yourselves even more broken.”

     Had it been anyone else Kahlan wouldn’t have even bothered to argue when she was just going to do what she and Tory wanted anyways. But Serenity had always been different; they’d known one another for almost eighteen years. Their father’s were very good friends, and living within throwing distance from each other’s stoops hadn’t hurt either.

     “C’mon, it being our birthday is the perfect reason for letting us handle this.” Tory shifted her weight from foot to foot. “Like Kahlan said: It may be no big deal.”

     Serenity shook her head, but this time in good natured defeat rather than authority. “Even though I’m probably going to regret this, let’s go.”

The End

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