Chapter Twelve

"The girl is in here," Gordon said, leading Kimber and Preston to a room in the mostly uninhabited west wing of the Hart Crest. "Be careful when you unlock the door, she might attack you in hopes of escaping." He hadn't Kimber a key. "Good luckā€¦ sister," he said softly.

"Thank you," Kimber replied coarsely. Gordon nodded and walked down the hall. Kimber listened to the ominous thumping of his boots on the marble floors. "Watch yourself too, Preston, she might move quickly."

Kimber unlocked the door quickly and pulled it open. A shape leapt at her, which she caught. "I wouldn't recommend doing that," she said dangerously as she slammed the girl's small frame to the ground. She tossed Preston the door key. "Lock the door, Preston and light the other lamps. I think we have much to speak of with our new friend."

Katrina tried to sit up. Kimber slammed her foot on her shoulder, forcing her back down. "Stay down," she ordered. "Until I say otherwise." She removed her foot.

Katrina wheezed and watched the human light the lamps. She loathed him- she loathed all humans.

"All right," the human said cheerfully. "All lit up, so I guess you can stand." Katrina shot a look at the DragonHart who nodded slightly. Katrina stood quickly.

"Who are you?" she demanded, "What do you want with me?"

Kimber let a cruel smile come over her features- she wanted to scare the girl, scare her badly. "I am the DragonHart, and this is my friend and ally, Preston Everclear."

"A human is your ally?" Katrina sneered. "A mere human is who the infamous DragonHart puts her faith in?"

"I'd be nice to Preston if I were you," Kimber said mockingly, "He's more likely to take pity on you than I am. " Preston laughed in the background, earning him more furious glares from Katrina.

"Why would his pity matter?"

"Because you're coming with us," Preston answered. "We're to take you back to the land of humans. You will travel with us, for as long as we choose."

"And if I don't want to?" Katrina challenged. Kimber laughed, but she realized nothing was funny.

"My, dear, when did I ever insinuate you had a choice?" Katrina looked up at Kimber and Kimber saw that she had fear in her eyes. My God, Kimber realized, she's just a child still. "You will follow with us, you have no choice."

"I am evil," Katrina said, "What would you want with me as your companion?"

"We don't," Preston said. Kimber watched as he moved to stand in front of her. "Our love is for humanity, not for you. But for humanity, we would try to save you. So silence yourself, and come with us."

Kimber raised her eyes at the silence that Katrina let fall over her. She nodded to the door. "Come, both of you."

The three walked down the halls of the Hart Crest and out of its main doors. Barabas waited there with three mounts.

"Your provisions are packed," he said softly. "It's time to for you to go." Kimber nodded solemnly and embraced her father.

"I am sorry that I have to go," she said honestly and it was true. Everyday in her homeland made her love it. Every second made her need it. "I will miss you."

"I will miss you, my daughter, but you must go. You must to Ki Lo, there is much you must see there." He patted her shoulder. "And remember," he looked at Katrina, then back to Kimber, "At the first sign of trouble from her, if she tries to escape, if she attacks, you must kill her."

Kimber threw a glance to Katrina, who had obviously heard. "I would pray it would never come to that, Father."

"And so would I," he answered. "Preston Everclear, look after my daughter and granddaughter. I knew your father well, and I know he would be proud of you."

"Thank you, Hart," he said, and mounted the horse. "I will not fail."

"I know," Barabas said. "And you, my granddaughter, Katrina, you are always welcome here, so long as you stay on our side. Stray but a little, and we will have no choice." He walked over to her and touched her face gently. "But I do love you. You are kin."

Katrina did not say anything. She couldn't find it in herself to.

"Good luck to all," he called as Kimber kicked her horse and the trio rode off, out of the HartLands, back to the portal.

Kimber set the book down. She hadn't intended to read it anymore, but it drew her to it. "The past always draws us to it," she said aloud.

Her past, on paper, how could she refuse? How could anyone refuse the past? Most people would say they ran from the past, but when the chips were down, they took solace in it.

Kimber shook her head and set the book down. Kath was right, Kimber did change in the book, but had she really truly ever changed? She wasn't sure.

"What does it matter? If I am still truly the same?" she asked no one, "Would you judge me by what I've learned or by my soul?"

She shook her head and walked into Kath's bedroom. She missed the author. She lay down on the bed, trying to imagine the small woman in her arms. It didn't work.

Sitting up, Kimber sighed. Launching herself out of the bed, she knocked her knee on the nightstand. Rattled by the impact, the drawers drew ajar. She reached down to shut them, but opened to top one. Nothing but letters.

She opened one quickly. "Word leapt out at her, hitting her eyes. Letters from the girl, she realized, the one Kath wouldn't talk about.

She knew she should have put them back, but Kimber didn't. Instead, she vowed to read everyone. She would understand Kath, somehow.

And if she understood Kath, she would not fail her.