I was limp in Erik's arms. I couldn't tell where we were or what was happening. All I knew was I was with Erik.
I felt fresh air and opened my eyes briefly. We were out of the dungeons. Then we were on a horse.
"Kendra," I gasped.
"She is with Ilya," Erik said.
We were being pursued. Guards were shooting arrows at us and shouting. The horse was getting tired. Erik swore under this breath and jumped off and into the trees. It felt as if we were flying. He jumped from tree to tree. I couldn't see Ilya or Kendra but I had to trust that they were safe; especially Kendra.
"I am sorry," I whispered. "This is my fault."
"Hush," he said. "We will talk when we are home."
He stopped running and jumped down. I hissed in pain.
"I am sorry, my love," he said. "We must stop and clean the girl. She is bleeding."
"Her name is Kendra," I mumbled. "I am tired, Erik."
"I know, my sweet. Sleep if you wish."
"Not until I know Kendra is okay."
He sighed but carried me to a stream nearby. We got onto the ground and he propped me up. Kendra was crying as Ilya spoke soothingly to her and cleaned her feet.
"It hurts," she whimpered.
"You will be just fine," Ilya cooed. "See? Already the blood is stopping."
"What happened, Camille?" Erik asked as I leaned into him.
"Ran into my father," I said and Ilya brought Kendra over, wrapping her feet by tearing the apron she wore in half. "My fangs were showing because I was angry. He saw them and thought I was you. He had me tortured, Erik!" I said with a wail.
He held me close as I sobbed.
"We are an hour from home," Erik said when I calmed down. He looked at Kendra. "Where do you live?"
"I don't have a home," she whispered.
"What do you mean?" Ilya asked but Kendra didn't answer.
"Come with us," I said, rubbing my eyes.
She looked at Erik in fear.
"You killed my mama," she said and he shut his eyes. "Why did you kill my mama?"
"I told you," I said. "He did not mean to do it."
"It was an accident?" she asked and I nodded.
Kendra walked over and held my hand. I closed my eyes and put my head on Erik's chest.
"Thank you," I whispered.
"Of course. I will do anything for you, Camille," he whispered. "Even if that means killing, I will do anything."
"They are not following us anymore," Ilya said. "Before you return home, there is someone you should meet."
"It cannot wait?" Erik asked.
Ilya shook his head. "No. Camille, can you walk?"
Erik lifted me again and I looked for the horses.
"We had to leave them behind," Erik said when he noticed me looking. "I will pay the barn master whatever he wishes. I do not care right now."
"Where are we going?" I asked Ilya who was carrying Kendra on his back.
Kendra had fallen asleep and was snoring on his shoulder, drooling a bit. For some reason, it made me smile.
"We are visiting a friend of mine," he answered. "He will help you."
"With what? We just need to go home."
Ilya didn't answer so I sighed and put my head on Erik's chest. I kissed it through the shirt and he tightened his hold on me.
"I will fulfill my promise when we get home," I murmured.
"To hell with the promise," he said and I looked at him.
"But we made a deal."
He shook his head, glancing at me briefly. "No, we did not," he said. "I knew how important it was to you. You need not lay with me."
I cried. "I wish I could hug you."
He chuckled. "Perhaps later."
I opened my eyes briefly and leaned my head once more on his chest. In that moment, I realized I had fallen in love with Erik.
"How far away is this friend?" I asked after we were still walking for half an hour.
Kendra had woken up but she wasn't speaking. I was worried about her.
"We are almost there," Ilya said.
I looked up. We were coming up to a small inn with a barn across from it. Ilya did a strange whistle and a man walked out of the barn. He smiled at our ragtag group. Kendra gaped at him.
"I've been waitin' for yeh, little 'un," he said to Kendra.
She just kept staring so I cleared my throat.
"H-Hi," she whispered, watching as his wings moved slowly.
The man smiled at me. "Glad to see yeh survived," he said. "I'm sorry about yer father. Yeh wait here."
"He is a fairy," I gasped.
"Yes," Ilya said with a smile. "We have been friends for many years. He is the one who told me how to find you, Erik."
"Why were you looking for him?"
"Story for another time," Erik said softly. "We need to get you rest."
I yawned just as the fairy came back out.
"What is your name?" I asked but he didn't answer.
Instead, he walked over to Kendra.
"Here ya go, little 'un," he said and passed her a large marble. It was white but, when you looked at it in different ways, it glimmered different colors. "Make sure yeh keep that safe."
"I will," she breathed, cradling it. "Thank you very much!"
The fairy beamed at her then looked at Erik and I. He sighed.
"I wish I had a gift for yeh," he said. "Be careful when yeh get home."
"Why?" Erik asked.
"They ain't followin' yeh anymore, but there's another one out there. He'll be lookin' for yeh soon."
"Who is it?" I whispered.
He shook his head. "I don't know. You best get off now. Get some rest," he added to me. "And make sure that marble stays safe."
Kendra nodded and Ilya had her get on his back again. I looked to Ilya.
"I do not understand."
We retraced our steps and then headed back for home. Ilya looked like he was in thought for a few minutes.
"I agree with Erik," he said finally. "We need to get you home before we talk about anything else."
"Okay," I sighed, knowing it was useless to argue.
When we did get to the village, Gertrude was out and screamed when she saw me.
"Camille!" she cried. "Camille, what happened to you!?"
"She is okay," Erik assured her. "But she needs rest."
Gertrude looked at our traveling companions. Her eyes landed on Kendra and she smiled kindly. Kendra hid behind, Ilya, though. We had taken the apron off of her feet now that they were no longer bleeding.
"Who's this?" she asked and Ilya smiled at her, getting her to move from behind him.
"Kendra," she said in a small voice.
"Our ward," Erik added when Gertrude looked confused.
Her eyes lit up. "Hi, Kendra. My name is Gertrude." Kendra shook her hand timidly then grabbed mine. I smiled. "My cat just had some kittens. Would you like to see them?"
Kendra looked to me and I pulled her closer.
"No one knows what we are," I whispered in her ear and she nodded, understanding. "If there is an orange one, bring it home."
Kendra smiled then took Gertrude's offered hand.
Erik led Ilya to our house. Johanna went insane when she saw me.
"Do you need me?" she asked immediately after Roman got me in bed.
"No," I said with a smile. "But thank you."
"Johanna, there is a young girl that came back with us," Erik said. "She is with Gertrude right now. When she returns, take care of her until we are done in here."
"Yes, Master Moreau."
She bowed and closed the door. Erik sat on the bed beside me, leaning over me, and Ilya brought the desk chair over.
"Where to begin?" Ilya sighed. "I guess we can start with the plague."