I nudged the fidgeting object with my knee. It froze. Grunting from the persistent pain, I tried again. “Who’s there?”
“Mel, is that you? What’s happening?”
My heart almost stopped beating. Morven was on the wagon with me. The mixture of emotions was overwhelming; I could barely form rational sentences. Hearing his voice filled me with elation and sadness in equal measure.
“I’m bound up like a hog roast ready for the spit.” Morven struggled against my legs, trying to dislodge the ropes holding him fast.
“I’m so sorry this has happened to you. My brother is an evil man.”
“Can you untie me?”
It was clear that he couldn’t see either. “No, Cador bound my arms and legs too.”
“Did he hurt you? What the kyjya is going on?”
How could I even begin to explain? Morven had no idea about me carrying his child. What good would it do to mention the fact that I was losing it as we spoke? All I could do was sniff back the tears, bear the agony alone, and hope that we would survive the day. “I’m okay.” I managed to snivel, scooting down the planks of the cart until I was level with his body.
His warmth thawed my chilled skin. Despite every rut in the trail testing my threshold for pain, I would not move from his side.
“When my father finds out, he’ll wedge an axe in your brother’s skull. Cernonnus alone knows what he’ll do to his men.”
I didn’t answer him. Blake wouldn’t get the chance to exact revenge this day, Cador would make sure of that. The thought of dozens of Duro warriors lying in pools of their own blood, their necks opened while they slept, flitted through my mind. Cador might not be the best warrior, nor the most feared, but he had the capacity to fight dirty when the occasion presented itself. He was not an honourable man and never would be. Abducting the son of Chief Blake would fuel the feud between our tribes for generations.
What had he planned for us both now?
Morven pushed himself closer to me, feeling the juddering sobs through my cloak. “Hey, less of that. This is not the end. We’ll get through this, you’ll see.” He hushed and soothed me with kind words, but it was all for nought. He didn’t know my brother like I did.
We lay still for a long time, rattling and bumping along in the back of the cart. I felt faint with the blood loss and a raging thirst. When the spring sun beat down on us from high above, I knew that we’d crossed the bridge over the River Sid. We were back on Dumnonii land.
Cador called a halt to the warriors steering the wagon. Morven took a sharp breath. As the men dismounted and walked to the rear of the cart, I heard my brother’s voice.
“Make sure she’s uncovered. I want her to see this.”