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Outcast (Part 21)
I opened the tent flap and looked out. It was midnight and Moonbeam and Moonsong still hadn’t returned. I was worried. Just when I was about to go back in, Moonsong’s horse, bearing two riders, came galloping toward the tent. When I saw who the other rider was, I rushed to help. Moonbeam was unconscious again. I carried her inside and laid her on a bed, then turned to Moonsong.
“What happened?” I demanded.
Moonsong flinched a bit. “I’m not sure. There was an arrow. From where, I don’t know. It caught her cheek.”
“Go get a doctor.” I turned back to Moonbeam. On her right check, was a slanted, deep cut from the arrow. Her left arm seemed to have burns on it. The sleeve of her undertunic was burnt through and the skin underneath was red. I looked back up. Dafar was had seen her arm too. A man came in, followed by Moonsong. I was surprised to see that the man was Moonarcher. He came over to the bed. He tended to Moonbeam’s check first.
“It should heal well. What happened to her arm?”
“I don’t know.” I said.
Moonsong came over. “She picked up the arrow.”
Moonarcher frowned. “I don’t see how that would cause burns.”
“We can ask when she wakes up.”
Moonarcher nodded as he cut away the burnt cloth. “Moonsong, I must ask. Why did you wish to speak with the Princess, so far away from the camp?”
Moonsong bowed her head, blushing. “I am so ashamed of myself. I did not trust her. There have been many imposters over the years. I thought that she might be and imposter.”
Moonarcher wrapped Moonbeam’s arm in a white bandage. “Go on.”
“I fought her.”
“You fought her?” I said, incredulous.
Moonsong nodded. “I…I was wrong. I should have never doubted that she was the Princess.”
It was taking all I had not to laugh. Moonsong was obviously distraught over what she had done. “Do not blame yourself, Moonsong. Vlad will do anything to destroy the Moon Holders. Go get some sleep. We have a long day ahead of us.”
Moonsong bowed and left the tent. I turned to Moonarcher. “She didn’t realize that Moonbeam could’ve killed her.”
“Why do you say this?” Moonarcher was gathering his things.
“Moonbeam doesn’t realize this, but she has more power in her little finger than you and I have combined.”
“She does not know?”
“No. She doesn’t want any of this. She never wanted to be a princess of any kind. In a way, this was forced on her. She didn’t know any of the Moon Holder histories.”
“How did you meet her? If you don’t mind my asking, of course.” Moonarcher said.
I smiled. “Moondancer sold her to me.”
Moonarcher looked shocked. “He sold her to you?”
“Yes. I needed a wife. All the women in the Snow Kingdom refused to marry me, and I didn’t like any of them anyway.”
“What connection does Moondancer have to her?”
“He kidnapped her.”
Moonarcher raised a brow. “Moondancer didn’t strike me as such a character.”
“The man who brought her to me first told her who she was. He was a Moon Holder, living the life of an ordinary man. The first time I saw her was when she was trying to kill me. I almost got trampled by my horse. She pushed me off.”
Moonarcher glanced at the bed behind me. Moonbeam stirred. She moaned and opened her eyes. I moved to her side. She blinked at me.
“What happened?” she demanded.
I was a bit surprised. I had thought that after passing out for a fifth time in a week her speech would at least be slurred. “Well, we were hoping you could tell us.”
“Moonrider, do you remember when Ixol was killed?”
“The knife that was in his back, I pulled it out. It was made of black metal. There were flames, black flames that ran up my arm. That’s what caused me to pass out.”
“We thought that it was because of shock.” I had the grace to look sheepish. I didn’t think that Moonbeam was capable of passing out from shock.
Moonbeam smiled. “No. Black flames. Tonight, while Moonsong and I were… talking, an arrow with the same metal on the arrowhead cut my cheek. I didn’t realize that it was the same metal as the knife until after I picked it up.”
“The black flames?” I asked.
Moonarcher stepped forward. “Black Fire is a weapon only Vampires can use. It will kill anyone else who tries to use it.”
“Cloud Bringers can’t use it?” I asked.
“If Cloud Bringers can’t use it, then that means...” Moonbeam sat up.
“Vampires?” I said.
“It seems probable.” Moonarcher said.
“But Vampires are impossible to kill.” Moonbeam said.
“Not impossible. Wooden stakes driven through their hearts can kill them, but as soon as the blood of a living creature touches them, they come back to life.”
“Then it is impossible.” I said.
Moonarcher shook his head. “Strong magic will kill them. Nothing can revive them then.”
“Who has that much magic?” Moonbeam asked.
“You do, Princess.”
Moonbeam laughed nervously. “You’re not serious. I don’t.”
“I do not wish to argue, but you are the only one with that much power.”
Moonbeam shook her head. “No.”
Moonarcher bowed. “I must sleep now. I am an old man. We need our sleep.”
I nodded to him. Once he had left, I sat on the edge of Moonbeam’s bed. “Moonbeam, you really do have that power.”
She glared at me. “I don’t.”
I sighed. “You just don’t want to see it.” I gently picked up her bandaged arm. “You can heal this, you know.”
“I doubt it.”
“You can. Just wish for it to be healed and touch it.” I stood. “Get some sleep. You’ll need it for tomorrow.”
I drew the curtain to her room and waited for a bit. Several minutes after I had drawn the curtain, a soft golden glow shone through the curtain. I smiled to myself. She was starting to believe.