Reviewers – Oh, you lovely little… lovelies. Special thanks to Cheeselover25 for bringing this old piece back to my attention. Maybe I'll actually get somewhere now.

Author's Note – Well, apologies, that raw idea had been snatched away by the tricky little paws of time. I'm still a jumbled mess of thoughts, though. And with all those little character flaws – bah. Skip over them for now until I ease back into their personalities.

AND I'm changing Trow's last name to 'Dalen'. Seems more realistic. Pronounced the same, though – dah – len.

AND there was a mistake in the last chapter. Olavere's last name isn't McRae. Lareel's is.

Copyright – Nonexistent really… but stealing is bad. :D

Chapter 7 ~ One and Done Kamin Austas

There's a moment before a catastrophe when you know what will happen next, but you naturally choose to put it aside. You can only ignore it for a split second, but without realizing it, your thoughts will wander to cherish that one prized instant when time holds its breath.

I woke in that moment. My first thoughts were ones of my tangled predicament, and right as images of Lareel slipped into my mind –

Trow Dalen

The scream was muffled from across the house, but somehow it managed to blast louder than humanly possible. My head and my body seemed to clash for space, and although my body flew with energy, my mind was still groggy from the sudden start. Before I knew what was happening, my feet had already sped out of my bedroom.

As I ran down the hall, I felt that burning-ache of dread. I knew something was different about this. There weren't any broken bones this time, or backfiring pranks. Elisias doesn't alert the entire house unless she needs to.

I saw Skit in the doorway of the little one's room. His face was all twisted in mixed emotions, but none of them were good.

"Skit?" I called, unsure. It's not too often I'm caught off guard, but my brother's the best one to confine in when it happens. "What's going on?"

He took a deep breath and looked me right in the face, which was a jarring as saying the truth straight. But instead he said, "Lareel."

And that just made it a whole lot worse.

I stood by him in the doorway. Elisias and Marlow were crouched over Lareel's bed, holding each other. Olavere and Pansa cowered in their beds, facing Lareel's. The twins pushed in from behind me to see, and I couldn't decide if I should have held them back or not.

I moved in closer, sort of afraid. I knew what had happened, but didn't really accept it until Marlow scooted away.

Lareel lay on her back, staring up at the ceiling. Her eyes were wide and glassy, unseeing, and her hands were curled into permanent fists.

Dead. Lareel was dead.

"They found her," sobbed Elisias, "they found her, the Timekeepers, they found her…"

I didn't notice Marlow was talking, but his lips were moving.

"Dead, she's dead, it's my fault," Marlow said. His voice sounded so lost it was far more unbearable than Elisias and her cries. "It's my fault. We could have done something. Lareel. Dead, she's dead. It's all my fault."

I was more shocked than grieving. Later I would come to terms with it – the empty spot at the table, the extra lines on Marlow's face – but at the moment, I was a big empty mold, looking for something to give me shape. And I found anger.

It filled me up, hot and bubbly. "Those freaking Timekeepers! Those freaking, freaking, freaking devils!" I repeated the word over and over, as if saying it harsher could scrape some of the burning confusion away. "FREAKING, FREAKING IDIOTS! I want to kill them, I'm gonna kill them!"

The anger and confusion and sadness battled for space, and I ended up covering my face with my hands and screaming my bloody guts in them. It didn't do much, but there was nowhere left for it all to go except out. I wanted to rip off the roof, hurl things at the walls, run as fast as I possibly could and kill everything –

"WHERE'S KAMIN?" I shouted suddenly, "HE SHOULD BE HERE!"

I imagined him still sleeping, oblivious to all this. It somehow added more rage to my fit.

Skit reached out to stop me. "No, Trow –"

"I DON'T CARE!" I screamed at him. "I DON'T FREAKING CARE!"

I sprinted down the hall, practically hurling myself into Kamin's room. He was sitting up on the bed, looking terrified. I felt no pity. In fact, there was such a chaos going on inside me, I barely felt anything at all.

I yanked him up by the collar of his shirt, which we had given him, when we had taken him in, fed him, and he didn't even care that Lareel was dead, that Elisias and Marlow were tearing themselves apart, that I was tearing myself apart.

"LAREEL IS DEAD! SHE'S DEAD! SHE'S DEAD! SHE'S NEVER COMING BACK!" I screeched into his ear, trying to convince myself of it too. "SHE'S FREAKING DEAD!"

His eyes got wetter. "I'm so sorry, I'm –"


"No, I –"

"SHE IS DEAD. SHE. IS. DEAD. She's dead. Lareel is dead. She's dead…"

Kamin Austas

Lareel is dead.

She is dead.

And I killed her.

I'm a killer.

But haven't I always been?

I killed their daughter.

They killed my father.

But she is dead.