A Circle of Crows

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Authors: Brynn Chapman
mahogany bed with all of its red silk hangings still intact as if it had been abandoned. In fact, all the items in the room appeared as if the dweller had simply walked out one day and never returned. Hairbrushes were still on the bureaus covered with inches of dust, an open book was on the bedside table with a pair of reading glasses beside them, as if they were awaiting the owner's return.
    "Where are we? Is it safe here?” She looked into his eyes for reassurance.
    "This was the king's domicile before she managed to off him. They had been sleeping in different apartments for years before she accomplished her task. With the assistance of my beloved captain, of course."
    Mari nodded. The king had trusted Colin implicitly, and Colin had been in his service prior to the king's death.
    "Sit, Mari. Tell me all you know."
    "I saw the book, Colin. The queen has it in her quarters."
    "The Dark Book? You are sure, Mari?” he asked, his eyes wide in alarm now.
    "Yes, it was just as you described it! I also overheard the captain say you were to lead the next expedition. Is that so?"
    "Good. He is finally beginning to trust me, despite my being from the old regiment. I am not sure the rebellion can be arranged that quickly. Come, there is much to do and I will be missed.” He got to his feet and held out his hand to her.
    As she grabbed his hand, she said, “Colin, wait. I know I am usually stout of heart and demeanor, but I fear your going to the mountain. Now that it comes to down it, I am not as bold as I thought I would be.” Mari was reliving memories going back in time to the night of her enslavement. She could see her parents lying on the dirt in front of her house; hear the screams ripping thought the night air. Black smoke billowed everywhere, and as she turned to look to the house down the road, she saw it ... the eyes spied her in the window ... She was brought out of her reverie by Colin squeezing her hand and sitting beside her on the bed.
    "Mari, are you alright? You have become pale and are trembling. You know you must be brave, Mari. We will never have a chance at any kind of a life in this world if we do not fight."
    He enfolded her in his embrace. She rested her head against his chest. She breathed in his familiar smell. She turned up her face to his and kissed him hard and hungrily. Colin hedged for a moment, then she felt his resistance give way and his hand went to her breast. She pulled him to her and he resisted again. She pulled him so he was lying on top of her on the king's old bed. He began to pull up her dress and she eagerly pushed herself toward him.
    Suddenly, there was a tapping sound corridors away, and it brought him to himself. He hauled himself up.
    "Mari, we cannot."
    "I care not, Colin. I know you will marry me. Please, you are the only thing I think of.” Her eyes pleaded with him.
    He stood and began to relace his shirt . “No, Marisol. I have never wanted anything more in my life than I want you. I would readily give my life for you. What if I place a child in you, Mari? What then? They will know and they will take it and destroy it, along with you and I as we fight to stop them."
    Marisol began to cry. “I know you are right and I am ashamed."
    He pulled her to him and let her sob, just as he had done since they were children, stolen from their village by palace guards.
    "Come, we must go.” He gently but firmly began to pull her. He turned to her and said, “I am yours forever."
    They hurried out of the apartment and back through the passageway.

Chapter 15
    Raena sat in front of the library's computer, pouring over documents reproduced from the 1900's.
    "There has to be a connection,” she said.
    She looked up each of the children who had disappeared that fall, along with the families’ accounts of the disappearances.
    Eva Entwhistle—aged three years old—disappeared from her backyard at sunset on 12 Septembre 1902.
    Julia Appleguard—five years old—disappeared from the

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