They wrenched Morven from the wagon first. There was a stark chill where his warm body had comforted me. From the scuffling noises and groans of agony, I could tell that my brother was taking out his anger on my man.
One of Cador’s men clambered up onto the cart and shoved his hands beneath my armpits, lifting me upright against the wooden chest. When he pulled back the hood of my cloak, the light was blinding. I blinked until my vision came into focus.
We were on the river bank just beyond the crossing. Morven was bent double, suspended from his bindings by one of my brother’s men. Blood and spittle poured on to the ground from his mouth; his face blackened and bruised. Cador walked back to his horse and retrieved an axe. It was definitely not from our smith. The design was unfamiliar to me.
I knew then that all hope was lost. Through streaming tears and blurred sight, I saw Morven lift his head and smile at me. It was his final sentiment before Cador lifted the blade high over his head and slammed it down onto his victim’s head.
Splinters and shards flew in all directions as Morven’s skull shattered under the dense metal of the axe; his brain splattered in filthy globs over my brother’s face. Morven’s eyes glazed, his spine collapsed and he slumped to the ground in a seeping pool of humours.
It was almost as though Cador had heard our conversation on the wagon. His petty rivalries had taken the one person in the world with whom I could have made a happy and contented life. I shook from top to toe with rage. He would suffer for this injustice if it was the last thing I did.
I straightened up and forced myself to stop the flow of tears. Cador would never have power over me ever again. I would sooner die than allow that kyjyan the satisfaction of knowing how devastated I was inside. Taking a deep breath, I steadied myself and shot him with my most defiant glare.
Cador narrowed his eyes at me. His mouth pinched into a vexatious scowl. “Not enough for you, eh? Let’s see how you like this.” He snatched a spear from a warrior and kicked Morven’s wretched body until it lay flat before skewering him from groin to neck. Every bone and organ cracked and squelched, spilling the liquid remains in rivulets down the wooden shaft.
His men helped to stand the gruesome statue up in the muddy bank, as a warning to the Duros at our boundary.
They did not cover my face as we trundled away in the wagon. I could see my impaled lover for some distance across the flat valley. There and then, I made a pact with the gods. I would devote my life to serving them if they helped me to bring about a pain-filled retribution.