Bonds of blood-painful secrets

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Kiar pulled his hood up as he entered through the city gate. The humans didn’t usually ask questions but it never hurt him to be safe. He wound his way through the tangled mass of streets easily after months of visiting his mother and half-sister’s home. He turned onto a side-road and strode silently across the cobblestones. The smaller streets had fewer people to see him or to ask questions. His hand slipped down to his belt as he subconsciously checked if the gift was still there. He had promised his younger sister a flute almost a year before but he had insisted he learn how to play his before he gave one to her. It had taken a long time to make in secret; if he hadn’t had to hide it he could have had the flute ready much sooner. Nobody knew he had a half-sister and no one would believe him if he said she was human. His fingers traced the vines he had carved on the flute’s surface. They started at the bottom, wrapping their way around it until they finally blossomed around the finger and mouth holes. He hoped she would like it. It had a slightly different sound from his but every instrument was different. He turned to the right and spied the small red-roofed house where Kara and his mother lived. A cold breeze swept down the street and blew the door open. Something about that door made his stomach feel uneasy. It was almost winter and far too cold to leave the door open. He knocked on the outside wall before entering the kitchen. Everything was quiet. The wind whistled past outside and a dying flame was crackling out in the fireplace in front of him. He stepped around the room’s tiny table into the next room that his mother and sister used for sleeping. Everything was in place, the bed was made, the chest of clothes was set neatly at its foot and one rug sat between the bed and the fireplace the room shared with the kitchen. He was about to turn around when he heard the sound of someone breathing in the room with him. It was so quiet that if he had not learned as a child to block out the sound of fire he might not have heard it.
“Hello?” He took a step forward. The breathing stopped. “Ay na mo, Kara, is that you?” He heard a small gasp.
“Kiar?”
Her voice sounded shaky and wet. “What’s wrong?” He heard something scraping against the ground and his sister crawled out from her hiding spot under the bed, obviously shaken but physically intact. “What’s wrong?” he asked again in her own language this time.
“She’s gone,” came the answer. “Mommy’s gone.” She started crying softly, rocking back and forth in her spot on the floor.
Kiar knelt on the packed earth beside her. “What happened?”
Kara tried to hold back the tears but some of them choked her up anyway when she tried to answer. “Two…two men knocked on the door and she looked through the hole and told me to hide… they argued and she tried to scream but…but…she couldn’t. They took her and now we’ll never see her again.” She started crying and rocking again. Kiar hesitated and placed his hand on her back. She stopped rocking when he touched her but kept crying.
“Lahat ay tama. Everything will be alright,” he assured her. “I’ll find your mom and the men that took her.”
She pulled her hands away from her face and opened her eyes to look at him. “Promise?”
Her young eyes looked so innocent, so helpless that he would have said yes even if he knew it was impossible. “I promise.”
She closed her eyes again and buried her face in his shoulder, breathing heavily but not crying. Kiar wasn’t quite sure what to do. Inside what he really wanted to do was remove the girl from his shoulder but he didn’t think that would be a good idea after what she had already been through. She needed comfort and apparently his shoulder gave that. He finally decided to hold her and wait for her to move by herself. He wrapped his arms lightly around her and after a few minutes even rested his forehead on top of her curly blond hair. She needed help and it was now his job as an older brother to help her.





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