"Anything new?" Moyra asked when the two started walking. She had arrived at his house that evening full of cautious hope that the mechanical dragon perched on her shoulder had cautiously given her.
"No," Driskoll replied, almost desensitized to the pain the question caused him, and the wrenching sensation in his gut that the answer evoked.
"Oh," Moyra looked down at the ground for a second and sighed, her red hair falling in her face. Lochinvar cooed, rubbing his metal head against her cheek, and she stroked the little beast's head in resignation. "He was oddly excited today, and I thought that maybe…"
"It's been over a year Moyra," Driskoll looked out at the walls of Promise, eyes on the setting sun. "He's probably dead."
Moyra swallowed. Locky had been so agitated when she got back from helping her mother at the market that she had let hope spring into her chest for the first time in months that maybe something had changed since that fateful night.
"I had just hoped…" She started, but could not continue, not wanting to say it. She had let herself hope for a moment that Kellach, who had disappeared on the one year anniversary of the christening of Curston to Promise, had returned.
"I can't let myself hope anymore," Driskoll gripped the pummel of his sword. "It hurts too much."
At fourteen, he was starting to grow into a man. His voice had deepened, and while it still cracked like crazy sometimes, it was no longer the voice of the boy he had been when Zendric had first made them Knights of the Silver Dragon. Just as Moyra was no longer the the little street rat she had been when Curston was almost destroyed. She might still be as silent as a cat and have kept her sneaky ways, but she had grown too, looking more and more like her mother as the months had gone on.
But tonight, even at fifteen, Driskoll could still see a younger version of his friend who had let herself be optimistic for just a moment.
"Sometimes I still can't believe it," Moyra said, as the two started to walk together.
In the early days of Kellach's disappearance, the Knights and Driskoll's parents had torn Promise apart looking for the missing boy. Torin had patrols roaming the areas surrounding Promise daily. When a month passed with no word, and another month after that, the search effort lost steam, as everyone had run out of places to look.
Moyra and Driskoll had fallen out for a while after that, each blaming the other for Kellach's disappearance. It wasn't until a tragedy had befallen Moyra about eight months prior that they became close again. Driskoll had been the first person to find her, bloody and crying in an ally. They didn't speak of what had happened, but Driskoll figured it out. Reunited, the two struggled to maintain their role as Knights when their brother and best friend was gone. Likely, for good.
"Neither can I," Driskoll agreed. "Everything feels so different now." The streets were mostly safe to walk at night, as long as they stayed out of the darker parts of town. Moyra sighed, leaning her head on Driskoll's shoulder briefly, her friend almost taller than her now. Driskoll reached behind her to scratch her back reassuringly.
And then everything happened too fast. Locky let out a startled noise in a tone Moyra couldn't quite identify, and was snatched off Moyra's shoulder by a figure in a hooded clock.
For a moment, the knights were shocked as the figure ran off with Locky squawking in his arms. "Hey!" Driskoll cried, recovering from his shock to begin running after the figure in the dark cloak. "That's my brother's dragon!" And the stranger stopped dead, whirling around to face Driskoll, though the boy was still unable to see the figure's face, shadowed both by the cloak and the dim light.
"This is your brother's dragon?" A raspy teenage boy's voice emerged from behind the cloak. For the first time, Moyra and Driskoll were able to see that Locky had curled around the boys's neck, gears grinding happily.
"Yeah!" That was when Driskoll was able to get close enough to the boy to press the tip of his sword against the stranger's throat. Locky snarled briefly.
"You got him!" Moyra ran up behind Driskoll.
"Moyra?" The strange boy gasped, not moving with the threat of Driskoll's blade close at hand.
"How do you know my name?" Moyra demanded, poking the stranger in the chest.
The boy whispered in a hoarse voice, "I know you."
"Well I don't know you," Moyra snapped, "Who are you? What are you doing here?"
"Wait, Moyra," Driskoll halted her with his hand. "I think I know him too," Still keeping his blade steady, Driskoll drew back the hood.
A dirt blackened face meet Driskoll's. The boy's hair was long and loose, caked with dirt, but obviously blond when clean. His eyes were pale blue and violent scars crisscrossed his features, marring a young face. There was something vaguely familiar about the boy, but in the dark, Moyra couldn't quite place it.
"Satisfied?" The boy snapped, suddenly tense.
"Yeah, I guess," The boy quickly drew his hood up. "What's your name?"
The boy laughed. "It took me a minute, but I know who you are. Your voice has changed."
Driskoll frowned at the odd comment. "I'm surprised you don't recognize me Driskoll. Has one year really made you forget your brother?"
"Oh my gods," Moyra whispered, "Kellach?"
The boy grinned wryly. "The one and only. Sorry I didn't recognize you before Driskoll. Your voice threw me off." He paused a minute. "Can we go back to our house? I have some things I need to tell you guys."
Kellach must have been exhausted, because he ended up leaning on Driskoll for the walk home. Driskoll noticed that Kellach's head didn't move around taking in the scene. His brother's gaze remained firmly fixed upon the ground in front of them.
Torin was out making his rounds as captain of the watch, and Jourdain was still at her tower, so the house was deserted when the knights arrived. Kellach walked falteringly toward a chair, and collapsed in it. He seemed to be concentrating very hard, but he did not look around. "Have you guys changed anything?" He asked, turning in Driskoll's direction.
"No," Driskoll murmured, "None of us are around the house enough to need to change anything." Kellach let out an audible sigh of relief. Driskoll probably should have found something wrong with this act, but at the moment he didn't think too much about it.
"So what happened to you?" Moyra demanded. "You've been gone a year!"
Kellach pulled his hood back from his head, his face downcast. "I was kidnapped," He started, "The night after the party. I had just left Mom's when someone hit me on the head," He rubbed the back of his head in remembered pain. "I woke up in a small dungeon room," Kellach's voice grew wary. He shifted, obviously uncomfortable with this next part.
"My captors kept me restrained and gagged most of the time, so that I couldn't get out of there," Kellach's eyes were dark. He hugged himself, and Driskoll could see scars on his arms. "They tortured me, trying to find out stuff about the order. How many of us there were, who was part of the order, where Zendric was." Closing his eyes, Kellach continued. "The torture sessions were the only time they removed the gag. I never let anything slip, not a word,"
Moyra could tell that Kellach was proud of himself, and she walked over and put a hand on his shoulder. "They kept hurting me. I guess they didn't realize that they weren't going to get anything out of me, because it just got worse. They seemed set on making me scream." Kellach shuddered, fists clenched.
Moyra leaned over, beginning to trace the scars on Kellach's arm. She asked him. "How bad did they hurt you?"
"You don't need to know..." Kellach started, but Moyra cut him off.
"Kellach, you're my best friend. Driskoll and I need to know how bad they hurt you," Moyra's face was set in concern, but Kellach didn't seem to notice.
"Let me get through the story first," Kellach insisted, pushing Moyra's hand away. Moyra nodded, but sat down next to Kellach anyway. Driskoll joined her.
"Anyway, I finally managed to escape," Kellach took a deep breath, and quickly released it. "But, it was at a price." Kellach must have decided to stop at that because he abruptly changed topics. "I wandered around a bit after that, hitching rides and getting help whenever I stopped at a town. I was delayed a bit at the beginning because the owner of an inn I stopped at insisted in calling a cleric to heal my wounds. It was too late to heal most of them seamlessly, so I've got a few scars."
Kellach smiled wryly and continued, "Eventually I got here. Everything seemed so strange, like it was from another life. That was when I felt Locky's presence." The dragonet cooed and rubbed against Kellach's neck. "I managed to find you guys by tracking Locky, and that was when I took Lochinvar. I didn't realize that it was you because your voice had changed. I thought someone had stolen Locky."
"Why would my voice make any difference?" Driskoll asked in confusion. "Couldn't you look and see that it was me?"
Kellach bit his lip, rubbing the back of his neck. "Umm, remember how I said that I escaped at a price?" When Driskoll nodded Kellach continued, "I jumped out a window. The place that I was being held was really high up, so I fell a good distance." Kellach's hand halted on his neck. "I whacked the back of my head really hard. That was when the innkeeper found me and called a cleric.
"I very nearly didn't live," Kellach was talking rapidly now, trying to get everything out before he thought better of it. "I had broken a ton of bones, and lost a lot of blood." Kellach lowered his hand from his neck, and rubbed his eyes with it.
"It was nearly a month before I woke up, and I was in and out of consciousness for the better part of two months," Moyra gasped, covering her mouth with her hand. "I woke up in a soft bed, aching all over. It was dark out, that's the first thing that I remember registering, which was strange because I could hear morning birds whistling. At first I thought that the room was just dark, but then the innkeeper told me that the windows were open and light was pouring in. That was when I realized..." Kellach's voice grew thick. He swallowed hard and completed his sentence. "That's when I realized I was blind."
Driskoll took a close look at Kellach's eyes then. "That's why my voice threw you off," he realized, "My voice was still high pitched when you vanished."
"Yeah," Kellach acknowledged. "You really gave me a scare there."
"You... you can't see anything?" Moyra asked, seeming to be holding back the temptation to wave her hand in front of his face.
"Nothing," Kellach murmured, "Everything is just, black."
"Kellach, I'm so sorry," Driskoll gasped, "I can't imagine how hard this must be."
"It's actually not too bad now that I've gotten used to it," Kellach said, but Driskoll could tell that his brother was lying.
"Kellach, don't ever try to lie to your best friend and brother. We can tell," Moyra smiled, and then realized that Kellach couldn't see it. "I'm smiling Kellach."
"I figured," Kellach's voice sounded miserable now that he had let his strong front drop. "But not a word about my blindness to Mom and Dad. They'll have a fit."
"But what if Mom knows some spell that will help you?" Driskoll asked.
"We can figure it out on our own," Kellach said, "Imagine how Mom and Dad will act if they find out. Dad'll get distant. Mom won't leave me alone. I'm sixteen. I don't need that. That's why I need you two to help me." His tone grew firmer. "But I don't want to be helped on every little thing. I'm going to need to learn how to function on my own eventually, but I will need some help at first." Kellach shrugged.
"Of course we'll help," Moyra cried, "How could you think we wouldn't?" It was that moment when Jourdain decided to walk in the door. She dropped the books that she was carrying in shock at her son sitting in the family room. Driskoll watched as Kellach turned to face the direction the sound of the book falling had created. "Hi Jourdain," Moyra supplied, for Kellach's purposes.
"Hey mom," Kellach smiled weakly. "Long time no see." Only Driskoll and Moyra got the faint attempt at humor.
Needless to say, there were many tears shed by Jourdain, and Kellach's cloak was pretty wet by the time that Jourdain saw fit to send Kellach and Driskoll to bed and Moyra home. Moyra left through the front door, but Driskoll didn't doubt that she would be in the boys' room when they got up there.
Not one to disappoint, Driskoll found Moyra sitting on Driskoll's bed cleaning her nails with her knife. "'Bout time you got up here." Moyra admonished, tucking her knife back in her boot and crossing her arms.
Kellach sighed and held his hands slightly outward and in front of him as he tried to find his bed. His fingers touched the blankets, still made and untouched after Kellach had vanished.
"You guys didn't touch my bed?" Kellach asked in surprise.
"Saw no reason to," Driskoll shrugged.
"Hey Driskoll, could you show me where my night clothes are folded in the dresser?" Kellach asked, and Driskoll nodded, but then remembered, "Sure Kellach." This was going to take some getting used to.
As Kellach changed shirts, Driskoll noticed how many scars crossed his brother's back. They were all over his back in lines. Lashes, Driskoll realized with a start. "Kell, wait," Driskoll walked over to Kellach. "Moyra, come here."
Moyra trotted over, realizing with a gasp what Driskoll had seen. "Oh my gods, Kellach," She murmured, running her finger over one of the scars.
Kellach turned toward the front, bearing to Moyra and Driskoll a whole new level of horror. There were lashes of course, but also lines cut across his chest, obviously made by a knife, and someone very skilled at causing pain.
"How bad do they look?" Kellach asked, unable to see the looks of absolute horror on his friend's faces.
"Oh..." Was all that Moyra could say.
"Kellach, they really hurt you," Driskoll murmured in shock, touching a line on Kellach's shoulder and allowing his finger to trace the scar tissue.
Kellach lowered his head, sightless eyes firm. "Yeah. But I'm fine now."
The two of them stared at him in shock, not moving. "Guys," Unable to see their faces, Kellach pulled his shirt on, brushing Moyra and Driskoll's hands from his body. "I'm fine. I'm here now aren't I?"
Moyra looked skeptical, but opted to let it go. "How did you get here?" Moyra murmured. "I mean, you had to make it all the way through Promise to get to us."
Kellach shrugged. "I know Promise like the back of my hand. And… I've got a lot of practice navigating without sight when no one will help you.
"I remembered the sounds and smells that I used to barely associate with places. I barely was able to call them back," Kellach's voice dropped. "Then I could feel Locky, and I figured that he was with you."
"Kellach," Driskoll murmured, "Can't you see through Locky?"
Kellach frowned. "I suppose so. I hadn't really thought about it."
Locky cooed. Nudging Kellach's hand, the clockwork dragon looked up at Kellach. "I think he wants you to try."
Kellach nodded. "I will," He closed his eyes. Locky turned his head back and forth. Then Kellach gasped, and he opened his eyes and fell backwards. "Oh Gods."
"What happened?" Moyra gasped, grabbing Kellach's arm to steady him.
"There was nothing," Kellach seemed shaken, and tears were beginning to fill his eyes. "I looked through Locky's eyes like I usually do, but there was nothing!" He sounded so angry, but his tone was laced with a bitter disappointment.
The knights stood in silence for a moment. Kellach moved over to lay back on his bed. "It's so soft," He said quietly, almost to himself. Moyra's heart twisted, as she sat down next to him. Suddenly, she moved closer and hugged Kellach tightly.
"I'm so glad you're home," she whispered, not too surprised to hear tears in her voice. After a moment of shock, Kellach hugged her back tightly.
"Me too," He murmured, a hand stroking her hair.
"I promise we'll find a way to make this work, some way," Moyra curled her hands in his nightshirt subconsciously, not wanting to lose that physical proof that her friend was still there. Kellach didn't respond, but only held her tighter.
Moyra didn't leave that night. The knights all slept together like they hadn't since they were children.
May or may not post more, but they will all be drabbles of what happens next.
Thank you for reading!